Agencies that provide temporary nurses and aides to nursing homes and assisted living facilities may lack sufficient oversight, a recent article noted. Most state departments of health (including the Virginia Department of Health) do not regulate the agencies that provide temporary nurses. Although some agencies screen their nurses and aides, nursing homes and assisted living facilities run the risk that temporary agency nurses may be poorly educated, poorly trained, unfamiliar with the patient, and unfamiliar with the policies of the facility. Read more about the agencies that provide temporary nurses.
It's a source of great anxiety for patients and families to see significant staff turnover. Steady streams of nurses and aides entering and then leaving the facility hardly help build comfort or a continuity of care for the patient. To be sure, there are legitimate reasons for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to hire temporary agency nurses. However, in most cases, facilities hire agency nurses because they don't want to pay signing bonuses and benefits to full-time staff or because the work environment at the facility is so poor that full-time nurses never stay long.
Regardless, if a nursing home or assisted living facility doesn't want to make a commitment to keep good staff, what makes us think it will honor its commitment to provide good care? When agency nurses are little more than "warm bodies" designed to fill some staffing quota, everybody loses. That's why we need more regulatory oversight for these staffing agencies and the workers they provide.
Posted on Sat, January 19, 2008
by Robert Carter