The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revised regulations for nursing home facilities, which may help prevent elder abuse and make life for residents a little better. The regulations apply to all nursing homes that participate in Medicaid/Medicare programs. For a complete look at the old and new regulations, check out this side-by-side comparison from The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. Here’s a quick summary of some of the major changes:
Expanding Visitor Access
Under the new regulations, nursing home residents will be able to have unlimited visitors whenever they want, so long as the visitors don’t pose a disturbance to other residents. Residents may see whomever they wish, including family members, friends, attorneys, accountants, etc. Previously, nursing homes could place more restrictions on visitor access for their residents.
Better Care of Personal Belongings
The regulations also require nursing homes take “reasonable care” of the personal belongings of their residents. Importantly, nursing homes cannot require residents to sign waivers limiting the facility’s liability for lost or damaged property. They must take reasonable steps to prevent theft of damage of residents’ property.
Improving Staff Training
Nursing home staff will also receive more in-depth training in dealing with patients with dementia & Alzheimer’s disease, and in the prevention of elder abuse. Nursing home staff members are in a place to prevent nursing home abuse, as they interact with the residents on a daily basis. The new regulations intend to give staff more ways to report, stop and deal with abuse. Additionally, nursing homes must now have plans to stop the spread of infectious disease and to monitor the use of antibiotics.
Preventing Residents from being “Dumped”
The Department for Medicare and Medicaid Services also hopes to prevent one of the saddest forms of nursing home mistreatment – dumping unwanted residents at a hospital. Nursing home residents have certain protections against being evicted by a nursing home. However, some nursing homes get around this by sending their residents to a hospital and then refusing to readmit them to the nursing home after they are discharged. The new rules protect against this kind of unscrupulous eviction and extend protections to residents temporarily stationed in a hospital.
The new rules also include a ban on mandatory arbitration agreements, as they are often required by nursing homes before a new resident is admitted. However, a federal judge in Mississippi granted a temporary injunction on the implementation of that rule. The ban on arbitration agreements is important because it brings to light nursing home abuse and allows victims their rightful day in court. The courts now must determine the status of the rule.
While these new rules are intended to improve quality of life for nursing home residents and prevent elder abuse, unfortunately problems still arise. Residents and their family members may file a formal grievance with the nursing home, contact their local ombudsman, or seek legal assistance. If you or an elderly loved one has been the victim of abuse, contact us today for a free case evaluation.