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Improvements on Horizon for Nursing Home Residents

Written by NHAbuseGuide on July 27, 2015

Improvements on Horizon for Nursing Home Residents

In the summer of 2015, some exciting news came out of the White House Conference on Aging. That news was that “major changes” would be made to help improve the health, care, and safety of the more than one million people living in around 15,000 nursing homes or long term care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

What sort of changes, and why are they needed? In essence, the proposed changes would cut down on the number of infections that occur, decrease or eliminate the many unnecessary hospital readmissions, improve the safety of residents, and create a higher quality of care. While many people may believe that nursing homes and long term care facilities are already safe or will ensure the health of their loved ones, that is not the case.

As the proposed legislation shows, there are high rates of infection, avoidable returns to hospitals, and too many problems with safety that range from falls and abuse to medication problems and more. The changes that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed include:

Infection – As infections are a major problem in many nursing homes, the new protections would feature steps that could improve pre-existing infection control programs “including requiring an infection prevention and control officer, and an antibiotic stewardship program that includes antibiotic use protocols and a system to monitor antibiotic use.” (InfectionControlToday.com)

Training – Staff training is a huge issue, and some of the improvements proposed by HHS would include proper training on the care of dementia patients and on the prevention of elder abuse.

Staffing – Rather than the budget dictating staffing, the HHS proposals would cue nursing homes to base such decisions on the health of their residents and how much staff it would require to meet their needs fully. Additionally, new standards for skills and competencies would exist, and these would emphasize “person-centered” care and care plan.

Planning – In addition to ensuring staff was skilled in providing person-centered care, the actual planning would involve a multi-person team that would help with developing care plans for caregivers in the nursing or the home environment. This would include follow up and ensuring clarity of instructions.

Treatments – The HHS included plans for therapy providers (occupational, physical, speech, and so on), as well as dieticians to have the authority to draft specific orders when they touch on their areas of expertise (if state law allows and if the physician in charge allows that responsibility)

Diet – The HHS wants patients to have better food options but also to allow the facilities to have more flexibility in food services too.

Rights – The rights of patients have long been questioned, and the new HHS plans would improve patients’ rights, including “placing limits on when and how binding arbitration agreements may be used.” (InfectionControlToday.com)

Clearly, the HHS is not looking to over-tax facilities with so many new plans but to ensure that the quality of care and safety is of the utmost priority. These changes are entirely in line with the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, in which President Obama ordered that all federal agencies assess rules and find those that are out of date or of now use, and to then “modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them.” This is the goal of proposed rule CMS-3260-P, in the July 16, 2015 Federal Register and hopefully it is soon the standards that many nursing homes and long term care facilities follow.

When considering a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, do not hesitate to compare your options and choose only from those who have a solid track record of providing the best safety, care and quality of life. If your loved one has suffered neglect or abuse already, get in touch with an attorney immediately.


InfectionControlToday.com. HHS Proposes to Improve… http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2015/07/hhs-proposes-to-improve-care-for-nursing-home-residents.aspx

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