Are Regulations Getting in the Way of Nursing Home Reform?

The Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm were interested to come across an extended story from The Atlantic that delves into a range of issues affected nursing home care across the country.

The report details how care at most of these facilities remains institution-like. The author compared them to how asylums are run. All those who care about the well-being of our local seniors-including the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm-have long voiced concern about the overall lack of commitment to resident well-being. We firmly believe that it remains imperative for owners and operators of local nursing homes to ensure that senior residents are given opportunities to actually flourish as human beings, instead of merely being housed.

This latest article essentially echoes the same sentiments. Encouragingly it seems that many establishments are heeding the call and trying to shift away from institution-like care. The call for a “culture change” has been around for a decade and a half or more. However, observers explain that real efforts to change how care is provided at these facilities only gained any actual momentum in the last few years.

This reformed approach “is based on a belief in person-centered care, in which the values and wishes of nursing home residents and those working directly with them are seriously considered and honored.”

In practical terms, this requires many different changes. They include fostering closer relationship between residents, more empowered staff members, and an overall more welcoming environment. Part of this involves more closely incorporating family members in care plans. More specifically, there is a call for actions like allowing pets to have a home in the facility, creating more opportunities for residents to perform voluntary tasks/jobs in the home, and providing more open meal plans.

All of this can both ensure residents lives are improved as well as help limit instances of nursing home neglect rooted in failure to account for resident’s overall well-being.

However, many challenges remain to full implementation of these efforts at facilities across the country. For one thing, some point to the complex federal regulations of nursing homes as a challenge. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is vital that facilities not be able to skirt basic care requirements in order to maximize profits for owners at the expense of those living in the home. But on the other hand, paperwork details should not get in the way of ensuring the quality of life for seniors at these facilities is maximized.

The article author argues that “if we are serious about making nursing homes more comfortable and homelike, a review of existing regulations […] that impede culture change must be put in place.”

Our Illinois nursing home lawyers encourage everyone to read the entire article at The Atlantic to get a good idea of the complex issues involved in improving nursing home care overall. The story references the fear of nursing homes lawsuits. However, it is important to note that ensuring victim’s access to the civil justice system is not inherently incompatible with reform measures at these facilities. Enacting real reform at these establishments requires a groundswell of advocacy from residents, their loved ones, and other concerned community members.

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