New Jersey: Minimum LTC Staffing Ratios Law Signed

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On Friday, October 23, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed two bills (S2712 and S2785) ordering reforms to the long-term care industry in New Jersey.

S2712 requires minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios in New Jersey long-term care facilities. Additionally, the legislation will establish the Special Task Force on Direct Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment. S2785 requires long-term care facilities to institute policies that prevent social isolation of residents, addressing issues experienced by LTC residents and their families as a result of prohibitions and limitations on visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

S2712 establishes minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes. Specifically, the law requires:

  • One CNA to every eight residents for the day shift;
  • One direct care staff member (RN, LPN, or CNA) to every 10 residents for the evening shift; and
  • One direct care staff member (RN, LPN, or CNA) to every 14 residents for the night shift.

The bill also establishes the Special Task Force on Direct Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment, which will evaluate job supports and incentives, training opportunities, wages and benefits, educational initiatives, and certification reciprocity rules. The Task Force will be required to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature within one year of its first meeting, which must occur within 180 days of signing.

The bill requires long-term care facilities, as a condition of licensure, to implement policies to prevent social isolation of residents. The bill is intended to address the tremendous strain experienced by long-term care residents and families of residents as a result of the prohibition of and limitation on visitation during the pandemic. The bill requires facilities to create social isolation prevention policies to authorize residents of the facility to engage in in-person contact, communications, and religious and recreational activities with other facility residents and with family members, friends, and other external support systems, except when prohibited, restricted, or limited. The bill further requires policies to consider means to promote virtual visitation and resident recreational activities during periods where in-person engagement is limited/prohibited, and requires facilities to maintain the appropriate technology to implement that mandate.

LTC providers will be required to meet these ratios by February 1, 2021 when this legislation takes effect.