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What is an appropriate nursing staff/patient ratio in a nursing home?

I live in Tennessee and at the rehab/nursing home my mom is in, they have four CNAs per shift for over sixty patients.
Status: Open    Nov 17, 2014 - 07:19 AM

Caregiving, Elder Law

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Nov 21, 2014 - 08:43 AM

(Part 1):

It is difficult to give a specific staff/patient ratio for a nursing home because there are several factors that need to be considered. Some of these factors include the mix of residents to be cared for, the mix of available staff and the time of day. If there is a large number of residents who need a high degree of attention, such as individuals with dementia, there needs to be a higher ratio of staff. It also depends on how many RNs and LPNs are available and how involved they are in direct resident care. Usually the night shift requires less staff than the day shift.

An important question is, do you feel that your Mom is receiving the care that she requires? If you are not sure, try to visit her at different times during the day and observe her care and the availability of the staff.


Nov 21, 2014 - 08:48 AM

(Part 2):

I have 3 useful resources to suggest.

First, each state has an ombudsman program for long term care residents. The local ombudsman is a trained advocate for long term care residents in their area. They can provide information about available long term care options in the area. They will, also, follow up on and try to resolve any complaints submitted by residents or their representatives.

Second, if you haven’t already done so, check out Nursing Home Compare which compares information about skilled nursing facilities in your area. The information is laid out in an easy to understand manner. The staffing section identifies the various levels of staff and how many hours per resident per day is available at the facility. This data is based on the facilities state inspections. You can access this information at

Third, each skilled nursing facility should have a resident/family council. Becoming involved in your Mother’s facility council would help you become aware of special issues concerning the facility and provide an avenue to foster improvements if needed.


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