Governor signs Schmick bill to help address nursing home staffing levels

Legislation to help address nursing home staffing levels was signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

House Bill 1349 clarifies the official definition of geriatric behavioral health worker.

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax and ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, sponsored the bill.

“We need to make sure our nursing homes are well staffed with qualified individuals,” said Schmick. “My bill clarifies the official requirements for someone to become a geriatric behavioral health worker and will expand the workforce associated with geriatric patients.”

Schmick's bill fixes a legislative technical error from two years ago when the Legislature created a third path for someone to qualify as a geriatric behavioral health care worker.

Under Schmick's bill, a geriatric behavioral health worker must:

  • have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, behavioral health, or other related area; or
  • have at least three years of experience caring for persons with chronic mental health issues, dementia, or intellectual and developmental disabilities in a long-term care or behavioral health setting; or
  • have successfully completed a facility-based, 30 hour behavioral health curriculum.

“With the increasing numbers of those seeking assistance in nursing homes, we need to make sure we're doing everything we can to provide excellent, qualified care to the elderly,” said Schmick.

The 105-day 2019 legislative session is scheduled to end April 28.


Washington State House Republican Communications