Administration proposes new rules to help prevent nursing home abuse

The Obama administration has proposed modernizing federal safety rules that nursing homes must abide by in order to receive Medicaid and Medicare payments.

Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said that the proposed changes set high standards for safety and quality in nursing homes. The proposals were announced as part of the White House Conference on Aging.

Some of the proposals address nursing home abuse. Nurses would be required to be trained in dementia care and preventing elder abuse. There will also be a requirement that nursing homes report staffing levels, which Medicare officials will review to determine whether they are adequate. This stops short of requiring a federal nurse-to-resident ratio, which many advocates had pushed for. Dr. Shari Ling, the deputy chief medical officer for Medicare, said the administration’s approach focused on competency rather than “a numbers game.”

The proposed changes include measures to ensure that families are more involved in the care of their loved ones, as well as rules to promote more individualized care. For instance, residents would be able to choose their own roommates, and requests for meals and snacks at non-traditional times would be accommodated. The proposed rules also address reducing hospital readmissions, minimizing the use of antipsychotic drugs and antibiotics, and strengthening infection control.

If you suspect that a loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.