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Dear Advocate,

There never seems to be enough staff in the nursing home to take care of my mother and other residents. When I complain, the administrator says that they are meeting the 3.2 per patient per day requirement. What does he mean by the 3.2, and how can I make sure that the facility is meeting this requirement?

Confused in Santa Monica

Dear Confused,

California law requires 3.2 hours per patient per day of direct care by R.N.s, L.V.N.s, and CNAs. The law also states that there should be adequate staff to meet the care needs of all residents. The 3.2 hours is a minimum standard. In January 2003, the federal government requires that nursing homes post information about staffing levels that include the current number of staff directly responsible for resident care.

If you think that the staffing is inadequate, you have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Health Services, Licensing and Certification. They will review personnel records over a period of time and fine the facility if it does not comply with the minimum 3.2 direct care standard. Read CANHR’s fact sheet, How to File a Complaint Against a Nursing Home, for assistance in how and where to make a complaint.