July 1, 2010

New Nursing Home Laws Seek to Improve Elder Care

by Levin & Perconti

The Center for Medicare Advocacy released new information to help explain the nursing home provisions in the recently passed federal legislation known commonly as the “Affordable Care Act.” The Act is actually a collection of two different pieces of legislation, each of which affects nursing home care throughout the country. It is important for anyone with a loved one currently receiving care in one of these facilities to understand the changes to best ensure that the care provided to your elderly friends and family is meeting the legal standards.

Overall, the reforms are focused on three areas: improving transparency of information about nursing homes, better targeting enforcement of the current nursing home laws, and improving staff training.

First, according to the new law, nursing homes are now required to make ownership information available immediately to appropriate government oversight groups. In addition, the Health and Human Services Department must include new information in the “Nursing Home Compare” section of their website to provide better tools for consumers to determine the best place to provide care to their friends and family. Other new transparency requirements include detailed reports of nursing home expenditures, a standardized complaint form, and new staff accountability reports.

Next, the laws make changes to the enforcement of current nursing home regulation laws. For example, a National Independent Monitor Demonstration Project is now required which is intended “to develop, test, and implement independent monitor programs to oversee interstate and large intrastate chains.” Changes to the protocol of nursing homes closure are also made in the new law which will ensure that no new residents is admitted while a facility is scheduled to be closed.

The necessity of these changes in particular is made clear by recent examples of nursing home abuse. Just last month, Illinois officials scheduled several facilities in Illinois to be closed for repeated examples of nursing home negligence.

Finally, the new laws require additional staff training for nurse aides. Specifically, the aides must now have dementia management training and other elder abuse prevention training. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti know all too well the consequences of untrained and unskilled nursing home employees. We have won countless settlements and verdicts against nursing homes whose untrained workers provided inadequate care. From wandering and elopement to medication errors and pressure sores, nurse home employees who are not trained to provide proper care repeatedly commit elder abuse at nursing homes across the country.

Click here to read more about the new laws affecting nursing homes and the care they provide.