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How Much Care Do You Get in a Maryland Nursing Home?


Building your estate plan means acknowledging the possibility that you may one day require residential care in a nursing home.  Nursing homes are designed to provide care for people who require help with two or more of the activities of daily living, namely eating, mobility, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, and personal care such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, or shaving.  Maryland law requires nursing homes to provide at least three hours per day of direct care to each resident.  This includes assistance with the aforementioned activities of daily living, as well as administering medication and providing physical therapy to patients who need it.  Nurses and nursing assistants face an extraordinary amount of stress at work in exchange for relatively low pay, so it is a challenge for nursing homes to hire enough staff members to ensure adequate staffing.  Therefore, understaffing is a widespread problem, albeit less so in urban areas of Maryland than in some other parts of the country.  Inadequate staffing in nursing homes is a risk factor for medication errors and substandard care.  To find out more about choosing a nursing home and evaluating the performance of nursing homes in your area, contact a Washington, D.C. estate planning lawyer.

Introduction to the Members of the Nursing Care Staff

The people who provide direct care to patients in nursing homes on a daily basis belong to at least three different job descriptions:

  • Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) – Nursing home residents interact with CNAs more than any other staff members. CNAs provide assistance with activities such as feeding, personal hygiene, and helping residents get from place to place on foot or by wheelchair.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) – LPNs administer medicine in the form of pills or injections. They also insert and remove catheters.
  • Registered Nurses (RNs) – RNs can administer medication intravenously. Their main role in a nursing home, though, is to set and modify patient care plans, including dietary plans, and to supervise the other members of the nursing care staff.

Some nursing homes also employ physical therapists or respiratory therapists, especially if the nursing home also has a rehabilitation unit.

Fancy Math Makes It Difficult to Tell Whether a Maryland Nursing Home Is Understaffed

In a perfect world, you could tell whether a nursing home was understaffed simply by walking in at any moment and dividing the number of residents by the combined number of CNAs, LPNs, and RNs present at the moment.  Maryland law, however, determines whether nursing homes are meeting their staffing requirements based on how many nursing care staff members are working during a 24-hour period. Therefore, it is possible that the nursing home is adequately staffed during some parts of the day but understaffed at other times.

Reach Out to Us Today

Nursing home planning is an important aspect of estate planning.  A Washington, D.C. estate planning attorney can help you plan for nursing home care in the event that you need it.  Contact Tobin, O’Connor & Ewing for help today.



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