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Nursing Home Reform Act - Rights of Nursing Home Residents

The Nursing Home Reform Act, which is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, ensures that nursing home residents receive quality care that will help them “attain and maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being.”  Basically, this law establishes a minimum set of standards of care and rights for individuals living in certified nursing home facilities.

This law was the direct result of a 1986 study that was conducted by the Institute of Medicine at the request of the U.S. Congress.  The study showed that nursing home residents were being abused, neglected and provided with inadequate care.  Sweeping reforms were proposed by the Institute of Medicine and most became law in 1987.

Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, residents of nursing homes are to receive certain services and given rights.  Nursing home facilities that receive payments from Medicaid and Medicare for long-term care of residents must comply with the guidelines established by this law.  The Nursing Home Reform Act also specifies the service residents are to receive from nursing homes and establishes standards for the services.

Required services to be given to nursing home residents per the Nursing Home Reform Act include the following:

• Regular assessments
• A complete care plan
• Nursing services
• Social services
• Rehabilitation services
• Pharmaceutical services
• Dietary services
• Full-time social worker (if more than 120 beds)

Periodic reviews are made to make sure that nursing homes receiving Medicaid or Medicare are meeting the Nursing Home Reform Act requirements.  According to the law, states are required to perform unannounced surveys, which include resident interviews.  These surveys are to take place at least once every 15 months.  Surveyors focus on the rights of residents, quality of care being received, quality of life among residents and services rendered by the nursing home facility.  If there are complaints about a nursing home, the surveyor will conduct a complaint investigation or more targeted survey.

When a nursing home facility fails to meet the requirements established by the Nursing Home Reform Act, it will be subject to an enforcement process.  The proposed remedy will depend on the severity of the nursing home’s violation.  For example, if the violation puts a nursing home resident in immediate danger, the remedy imposed will be more severe.

If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call the Virginia nursing home abuse attorneys at Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas, LLP at 888-907-2631 for our Warrenton office or 800-741-1012 for our Culpeper office. 

Richard A. Dulaney
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Richard has over 30 years of experience in personal injury law.