CHICAGO, IL – Nursing home abuse is a widespread issue that has plagued the industry for decades. Unfortunately, addressing abuse within facilities continues to be challenging for various reasons including fear of retaliation. Others may be unable to file complaints due to physical or mental limitations.
If you or your elderly loved one is experiencing elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home, understanding the fundamentals of Nursing Home Reform Act and other Illinois elder abuse laws can empower you to protect their rights, health and well-being.
What is the Nursing Home Reform Act?
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) is a federal law enacted in 1987 to establish the fundamental rights of seniors residing in nursing homes, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure they receive quality care.
The NHRA law covers nursing homes receiving funding from Medicare or Medicaid payments and requires them to meet specific minimum care standards. The NHRA created a Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights for those living in covered facilities. These rights include:
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect
- Freedom from abuse, mistreatment and neglect
- Freedom from physical restraints
- The right to manage one’s own finances or designate someone of their choice to do so
- The right to privacy
- The right to have personal belongings and property
- The right to be informed of one’s medical conditions and to consult a doctor of their choice
- The right to refuse medications and treatments
- The right to a choice as to schedule and activities
- The right to an environment that provides maximum comfort and independence
- And many more
View the document from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for an in-depth explanation on nursing home resident’s rights.
Standards set by the NHRA
The NHRA enacted several requirements to protect seniors’ health, safety and well-being in nursing homes which require facilities to provide the following:
- Proper nutrition for their residents
- Proper preparation and administration of prescribed medications
- Comprehensive and personalized care plans for each resident
- Assessments for all residents with continual updates
- Pharmaceutical services
- Nursing services
- Rehabilitation services
- Social services
- Sufficient staffing based on the ideal ratio of staff to residents
- A full-time social worker for nursing homes with over 120 beds
How is the NHRA enforced?
To enforce the NHRA, Congress tied federal funding with a facility’s adherence to the rules and regulations set forth by legislation. States are responsible for monitoring and evaluating their nursing homes. They are mandated to perform random, unannounced surveys of nursing home facilities once every 15 months. They must look into the quality of care and services in residents’ welfare and quality of life. When complaints are mad, the state government is tasked with conducting an investigation.
Taking the first step toward protecting your elderly loved one
While the Nursing Home Reform Act provided much-needed surveillance of nursing homes receiving federal funding, abuse and neglect still occurs. Unfortunately, most of these case go unreported for unknown reasons. Others may not be able to pursue legal action due to limitations.
The good news? There are several steps you can take if you suspect that you or your elderly loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect. To begin, you need to report the abuse to authorities such as your local police, your county’s Adult Protective Services or the Illinois Department of Public Health can help keep a victim safe.
Your next course of action should be to contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney in Illinois. To better understand your legal options, get a free case evaluation today by calling (312) 384-1920 and take the necessary steps toward fighting for your or your loved one’s right to quality care.