New Legislation Aims to Expand Nursing Home Residents’ Rights

Nursing Home Resident

1/9/2020 Nursing Home Abuse John Whitfield

The intention behind the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act of 2019 is to build upon and reinforce the existing quality of living standards and care received by nursing home residents.

The History of Nursing Home Rights

Currently, nursing home residents’ rights are protected under the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987. The introduction of the NHRA came about after a startling report by the Institute of Medicine put a spotlight on the lack of quality care received by nursing home residents. The NHRA established a standard of living for nursing home residents while also defining their legal rights. The NHRA required the following services to be offered by nursing home facilities:

  • Social services
  • Social worker (full time, if facility holds more than 120 beds)
  • Nursing services
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • Dietary services
  • Care plans for residents
  • Periodic assessments of residents

Failure to provide these services would result in penalties from the federal government. In addition to standardizing services, the NHRA also propounded a bill of rights guaranteed to all nursing home residents. The bill of rights is comprised of the following:

  • The Right to Be Fully Informed
  • The Right to Complain (without retaliation)
  • The Right to Participate in One’s Own Care
  • The Right to Privacy and Confidentiality
  • Rights During Transfers and Discharges
  • The Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom
  • Right to Visits (welcome or refuse any visitors)
  • The Right to Make Independent Choices

Improving the Standard

The Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act builds upon and enforces established NHRA standards, including increase in staffing, increase in training and clinical hours, and reinforcement of nursing home residents’ rights. The Act requires the following in addition to NHRA standards:

  • Increase of staffing levels for facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid
  • Increase of training for nursing home staff
  • Increase of supervision obligation of nursing home staff
  • Safeguards for whistleblowers (both staff and residents)
  • Ban coercive arbitration arrangements between nursing homes and residents
  • Implement a protocol for collecting consent for use of psychotropic drugs

A key component is centered on staffing levels, specifically for facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments. Failure to comply with the Act could result in a freeze of Medicare and Medicaid payments, fines up to $10,000 per day, and the potential for temporary government control of the facility.

Nursing home staff would be required to provide a minimum of 4.1 hours of care per day to each nursing home resident. The purpose of the minimum would be to provide more personalized care as well as prevent common problems associated with lack of quality care, such as bedsores. To address concerns of mismanagement and inferior quality of care, the Act also requires at least three registered nurses to serve as management personnel.

Nashville Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys

Currently, an estimated 1.4 to 1.5 million Americans receive care at a nursing home facility. This population includes elderly, people with disabilities, and those with mental and physical health concerns. The goal of the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act is to ensure the voices of these Americans are not silenced.

Individuals receiving care are protected under the law and should be treated with care and respect. If your loved one is showing signs of elder abuse, immediately contact the Nashville nursing home attorneys at Whitfield Bryson LLP. Our trial attorneys will pursue the responsible parties involved and ensure they are held accountable for their actions.