74.42.350  <<  74.42.360 >>   74.42.370

Adequate staffMinimum staffing standardsExceptionsDefinition.

(1) The facility shall have staff on duty twenty-four hours daily sufficient in number and qualifications to carry out the provisions of RCW 74.42.010 through 74.42.570 and the policies, responsibilities, and programs of the facility.
(2) The department shall institute minimum staffing standards for nursing homes. Beginning July 1, 2016, facilities must provide a minimum of 3.4 hours per resident day of direct care. Direct care staff has the same meaning as defined in RCW 74.42.010. The minimum staffing standard includes the time when such staff are providing hands-on care related to activities of daily living and nursing-related tasks, as well as care planning. The legislature intends to increase the minimum staffing standard to 4.1 hours per resident day of direct care, but the effective date of a standard higher than 3.4 hours per resident day of direct care will be identified if and only if funding is provided explicitly for an increase of the minimum staffing standard for direct care.
(a) The department shall establish in rule a system of compliance of minimum direct care staffing standards by January 1, 2016. Oversight must be done at least quarterly using the center for medicare and medicaid service's payroll-based journal and nursing home facility census and payroll data.
(b) The department shall establish in rule by January 1, 2016, a system of financial penalties for facilities out of compliance with minimum staffing standards. No monetary penalty may be issued during the implementation period of July 1, 2016, through September 30, 2016. If a facility is found noncompliant during the implementation period, the department shall provide a written notice identifying the staffing deficiency and require the facility to provide a sufficiently detailed correction plan to meet the statutory minimum staffing levels. Monetary penalties begin October 1, 2016. Monetary penalties must be established based on a formula that calculates the cost of wages and benefits for the missing staff hours. If a facility meets the requirements in subsection (3) or (4) of this section, the penalty amount must be based solely on the wages and benefits of certified nurse aides. The first monetary penalty for noncompliance must be at a lower amount than subsequent findings of noncompliance. Monetary penalties established by the department may not exceed two hundred percent of the wage and benefit costs that would have otherwise been expended to achieve the required staffing minimum hours per resident day for the quarter. A facility found out of compliance must be assessed a monetary penalty at the lowest penalty level if the facility has met or exceeded the requirements in subsection (2) of this section for three or more consecutive years. Beginning July 1, 2016, pursuant to rules established by the department, funds that are received from financial penalties must be used for technical assistance, specialized training, or an increase to the quality enhancement established in RCW 74.46.561.
(c) The department shall establish in rule an exception allowing geriatric behavioral health workers as defined in RCW 74.42.010 to be recognized in the minimum staffing requirements as part of the direct care service delivery to individuals who have a behavioral health condition. Hours worked by geriatric behavioral health workers may be recognized as direct care hours for purposes of the minimum staffing requirements only up to a portion of the total hours equal to the proportion of resident days of clients with a behavioral health condition identified at that facility on the most recent semiannual minimum data set. In order to qualify for the exception:
(i) The worker must:
(A) Have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, behavioral health, or other related areas; or
(B) Have at least three years experience providing care for individuals with chronic mental health issues, dementia, or intellectual and developmental disabilities in a long-term care or behavioral health care setting; or
(C) Have successfully completed a facility-based behavioral health curriculum approved by the department under RCW 74.39A.078;
(ii) Any geriatric behavioral health worker holding less than a master's degree in social work must be directly supervised by an employee who has a master's degree in social work or a registered nurse.
(d)(i) The department shall establish a limited exception to the 3.4 hours per resident day staffing requirement for facilities demonstrating a good faith effort to hire and retain staff.
(ii) To determine initial facility eligibility for exception consideration, the department shall send surveys to facilities anticipated to be below, at, or slightly above the 3.4 hours per resident day requirement. These surveys must measure the hours per resident day in a manner as similar as possible to the centers for medicare and medicaid services' payroll-based journal and cover the staffing of a facility from October through December of 2015, January through March of 2016, and April through June of 2016. A facility must be below the 3.4 staffing standard on all three surveys to be eligible for exception consideration. If the staffing hours per resident day for a facility declines from any quarter to another during the survey period, the facility must provide sufficient information to the department to allow the department to determine if the staffing decrease was deliberate or a result of neglect, which is the lack of evidence demonstrating the facility's efforts to maintain or improve its staffing ratio. The burden of proof is on the facility and the determination of whether or not the decrease was deliberate or due to neglect is entirely at the discretion of the department. If the department determines a facility's decline was deliberate or due to neglect, that facility is not eligible for an exception consideration.
(iii) To determine eligibility for exception approval, the department shall review the plan of correction submitted by the facility. Before a facility's exception may be renewed, the department must determine that sufficient progress is being made towards reaching the 3.4 hours per resident day staffing requirement. When reviewing whether to grant or renew an exception, the department must consider factors including but not limited to: Financial incentives offered by the facilities such as recruitment bonuses and other incentives; the robustness of the recruitment process; county employment data; specific steps the facility has undertaken to improve retention; improvements in the staffing ratio compared to the baseline established in the surveys and whether this trend is continuing; and compliance with the process of submitting staffing data, adherence to the plan of correction, and any progress toward meeting this plan, as determined by the department.
(iv) Only facilities that have their direct care component rate increase capped according to RCW 74.46.561 are eligible for exception consideration. Facilities that will have their direct care component rate increase capped for one or two years are eligible for exception consideration through June 30, 2017. Facilities that will have their direct care component rate increase capped for three years are eligible for exception consideration through June 30, 2018.
(v) The department may not grant or renew a facility's exception if the facility meets the 3.4 hours per resident day staffing requirement and subsequently drops below the 3.4 hours per resident day staffing requirement.
(vi) The department may grant exceptions for a six-month period per exception. The department's authority to grant exceptions to the 3.4 hours per resident day staffing requirement expires June 30, 2018.
(3)(a) Large nonessential community providers must have a registered nurse on duty directly supervising resident care twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.
(b) The department shall establish a limited exception process to facilities that can demonstrate a good faith effort to hire a registered nurse for the last eight hours of required coverage per day. In granting an exception, the department may consider wages and benefits offered and the availability of registered nurses in the particular geographic area. A one-year exception may be granted and may be renewable for up to three consecutive years; however, the department may limit the admission of new residents, based on medical conditions or complexities, when a registered nurse is not on-site and readily available. If a facility receives an exemption, that information must be included in the department's nursing home locator. After June 30, 2019, the department, along with a stakeholder work group established by the department, shall conduct a review of the exceptions process to determine if it is still necessary.
(4) Essential community providers and small nonessential community providers must have a registered nurse on duty directly supervising resident care a minimum of sixteen hours per day, seven days per week, and a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse on duty directly supervising resident care the remaining eight hours per day, seven days per week.
(5) For the purposes of this section, "behavioral health condition" means one or more of the behavioral symptoms specified in section E of the minimum data set.

NOTES:

Effective date2015 2nd sp.s. c 2: See note following RCW 74.46.501.
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