The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987 established quality standards related to nursing homes by the federal government. If a nursing home facility wishes to receive Medicare or Medicaid, they must prove that their facility meets the obligations and standards required by the NHRA. Ultimately, what you need to know about the Nursing Home Reform act of 1987 is that this federal law was an attempt by the federal government to protect all seniors from any physical, psychological, or social abuse or neglect.
History of the NHRA
After Congress requested a study by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine (NAM)) in 1986, the federal government officially had documentation and evidence supporting the unfortunate reality that elderly residents of nursing homes were simply not receiving proper care. In even worse news, the study reported that elder abuse and neglect were common occurrences within nursing homes.
As a result, several recommendations regarding the staffing, treatment, and care of elderly residents in nursing homes occurred that ultimately developed into what is now known as the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.
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Impact of the NHRA on Nursing Homes
Due to the NHRA, nursing home facilities received more scrutiny and had to follow specific guidelines regarding the care of elderly residents in order to receive any Medicaid or Medicare monies. Staffing ratios improved, and the presence of elder abuse and neglect appeared to decrease. While no piece of legislation will ever completely eliminate every type of neglect or abuse in the nursing home community against elderly residents, this federal law was a step in the right direction to make this issue one of national priority.
Types of Standards Addressed in the NHRA
The NHRA established certain standards for nursing homes to ensure that elderly residents receive quality care, as well as remain protected during their stay. Some of the standards addressed by the NHRA for nursing homes include the following:
- Proper preparation and administration of prescription medications.
- Dietary services to ensure proper hydration and nutrition for residents.
- Proper staffing, including specific ratios for registered nurses and the ratio of nursing home staff to elderly residents.
- Patient assessments that have continual updates.
- Comprehensive care plans for every single resident of the nursing home based on their individual needs.
- Social services to provide care to elderly residents.
- Rehabilitation services.
- Full-time social worker (if the nursing home has over 120 beds).
Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights
The rights of nursing home residents were specifically addressed within the NHRA and included a Bill of Rights that defined and included all of the basic rights that a resident of a nursing home should receive and expect. These include the rights to:
- Medical, psychological, physical, and social care
- Security and safety
- Receive or refuse to receive visitors
- Dignity and respect
- Participate in community activities with family and friends
- Make their own choices when applicable
- Communicate with family members, friends, and the community at the nursing home
- Receive information regarding their medical care and treatment
- File a formal complaint regarding any instance of elder abuse or neglect
- Choose their own medical provider or physician
- Refuse medication (under certain circumstances)
- Freedom from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or restraints in any way.
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Because nursing homes rely on funding from Medicare and Medicaid, if they fail to follow the guidelines established under the NHRA, they will lose this funding. Every state will have the responsibility to survey and inspect a nursing home at least once every 15 months to ensure compliance with the NHRA.
Additionally, any nursing home that fails to follow guidelines established by the NHRA can also receive severe sanctions such as state monitoring, temporary state management, and monetary penalties.
How an Elder Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Can Help
The most important thing you need to know about the Nursing Home Reform act of 1987 is that this federal law ensures that your loved one should receive the proper care and protection from abuse and neglect as a nursing home resident.
If you feel your elderly loved one suffered from any abuse or neglect in a nursing home, consider calling our team today at Ben Crump Law, PLLC at 800-959-1444 to understand all of your legal options to receive justice on behalf of your elderly loved one.