The nursing homes in Kentucky have problems — and advocates for residents say that no one in the government is doing anything to fix them.
Federal law is somewhat vague about the staffing requirements for nursing homes, leaving it mostly up to the states to pass legislation that is more specific. Kentucky, however, has not done so. Efforts to pass a 2017 bill that would have required a mandatory minimum staff fell flat. Those opposed — who largely represent the nursing homes’ interests — said that Kentucky’s nursing homes simply couldn’t manage it. The bill would have required just a single nurse for every 21 patients during daylight hours and one nurse’s aide for every 10 patients.
In essence, the lack of legislation leaves Kentucky’s nursing homes able to set their own minimum staffing levels — and they prefer it that way. According to a rating system used by the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 43 percent of the state’s nursing homes were rated either “much below” or “below” average when it came to the type of care they provide their residents. That puts Kentucky toward the bottom of the national list.