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New Federal Regulations Bolster Rights of Nursing Home Residents

The federal government is in the process of overhauling its nursing home regulations. Overall, the changes are good news for nursing home residents and their families.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, nursing home abuse and neglect is a growing concern. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse.

Under the new federal regulations, nursing home residents have a greater say in their care. For instance, residents can select their own roommates, which allows siblings and same-sex partners to live together. In addition, residents are entitled to “alternative meals and snacks … at non-traditional times or outside of scheduled meal times.” As detailed by The Washington Post, the new rules contain a number of other new patient protections:

  • Nursing homes must appoint an official who will address complaints and follow more comprehensive grievance procedures.
  • A nursing home resident has the right "to receive visitors of his or her choosing at the time of his or her choosing," so long as this visitation doesn't impose on another resident's rights.
  • Nursing home residents can no longer be discharged while appealing the discharge.
  • Nursing residents can’t be discharged for non-payment if they have applied for Medicaid or other insurance, are waiting for a payment decision, or are appealing a claim denial.
  • The definition of elder abuse is expanded to include financial exploitation.
  • Nursing homes must have enough skilled and competent staff to meet residents' needs.
  • Nursing homes can’t hire any licensed professional who has been disciplined for abuse, neglect, mistreatment or financial exploitation.

“With proper implementation and enforcement, this could really transform a resident’s experience of a nursing home,” Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the Consumer Voice, stated.

The most controversial change impacts nursing home residents’ legal rights. The provision prohibits nursing homes from requiring residents to agree that any disputes will be resolved through arbitration and may not be brought through the court system. The mandatory arbitration ban is currently on hold because it is subject to a legal challenge.

If you or someone you love has fallen victim to elder abuse or nursing home negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego elder abuse attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.