Daily, thousands of baby boomers are forced to make the decision as to whether they need care and assistance as they continue to age. Currently, there are 1.4 million adults residing in nursing homes and that number will only continue to grow over the next few decades. Plans for how to cover the millions of adults who thought they would rely on Medicare and Medicaid in their old age as well as where they will live and who will assist in taking care of them if needed, are questions that must be addressed soon.
Thus, it is not surprising that it took four years and thousands of comments in the rulemaking process in order to revise the broad nursing home regulations that were put in place in the 1990s under the Nursing Home Reform Act. Nursing homes must comply with federal nursing home regulations, but some state laws have adopted more strict laws.
What New Regulations?
The new regulations were set to be implemented starting in the beginning of 2017 and will continue to be phased in over the next two years. While minimum staffing standards were unfortunately not part of the regulation revamp, there are many changes that are proposed to help those individuals in the nursing homes.
There will be advanced training set for staff in nursing homes regarding elder abuse and how to treat patients suffering from dementia, as well as the difficulties that can accompany both. Theft has also been a concern for many residents of homes, with the administration of the nursing home generally disclaiming liability if personal items are lost or stolen by having the resident initially sign a waiver. Now, nursing homes are required to take reasonable care of residents and their belongings.
New Legal Recourse
For those who frequently experience sickness and worry about germs spreading in a nursing home, additional measures will be put in place in order to monitor the use of antibiotics and the spread of viruses using an infection control officer. Grievance procedures are also being reviewed and altered in order to help understand each resident’s situation, such as when insurance decides to stop covering care to a certain extent.
The biggest legal win for nursing home residents and their loved ones are the invalidity of binding arbitration clauses in the nursing home agreements. While residents can elect to use arbitration in the vent they have a dispute, it is not their only available recourse.