How Does the Nursing Home Reform Act Protect Elderly Residents?
Nursing home abuse and neglect are some of the top concerns of family members who make the decision to move a loved one to an assisted living facility. Understanding the Nursing Home Reform Act and what it means can help family members better understand their options if they suspect abuse.
What is the Nursing Home Reform Act?
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) was enacted in 1987 to protect elderly residents living in nursing homes. The act was signed into place after a study found that nursing home residents were subject to high rates of abuse and neglect. The NHRA is a provision that establishes the minimum standard of care that all nursing home residents must receive. If the nursing home doesn’t meet these standards, they’ll no longer be eligible for government programs, like Medicare or Medicaid.
The NHRA includes standards of care that cover residents’ rights related to:
- Freedom from abuse or neglect
- Freedom from the use of physical restraints
- Access to medical, physical, psychological, and social resources
- A right to privacy
- A right to be treated with dignity
- The ability to self-determine and make decisions
- The ability to communicate
- The option to be involved in their own care plan
- The right to share or report concerns without any retribution
In addition to the minimum standards of care, the act requires nursing homes to complete a certification process that allows unplanned visits and interviews with residents. During an unplanned survey, the nursing home is reviewed on things like resident rights, quality of life, quality of care, and available services.
If a nursing home doesn’t meet all requirements, it may be sanctioned. Sanctioned nursing homes must complete certain requirements to maintain their status. This may include additional staff training, a plan of change, monitoring by the state, or even financial penalties. The sanctions and areas of improvement will vary, depending on the parts of the NHRA that the nursing home violates.
Resident’s Bill of Rights
An important part of the NHRA is the resident’s bill of rights. This includes a list of rights that all nursing home residents are entitled to, including dignity, self-determination, access to information, freedom from restraints, and privacy.
How Does the NHRA Protect Residents?
The NHRA aims to set minimum standards of care, enforcing nursing homes to follow them. If a nursing home doesn’t meet these standards and continues not to meet requirements to improve, it may no longer be able to accept state funds. Because many residents rely on funds from government programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, they’re more likely to go out of business. For many, this incentivizes the nursing home administrators and staff to improve the level of care that their residents receive.
Additionally, nursing homes are required to provide residents with a safe and sanitary living environment. This aspect largely went untested as it’s not as clear-cut to measure as other parts of the NHRA. However, the Coronavirus pandemic alerted many to this risk that is still commonly found in nursing homes.
The NHRA has proven to be effective in reducing the number of nursing home abuse and neglect cases in the country.
Contact an Elizabeth Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at Sugarman Law Firm represent clients throughout New Jersey, including East Orange, Vineland, Union City, and Clifton. Call (732) 877-1975 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 80 East Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876, as well as an office in Marlton, NJ.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.