Kentucky Nursing Home Laws and Regulations
Nursing home residents require assistance with basic tasks like feeding, dressing, bathing and toileting, and it is incumbent upon the nursing home to determine what each resident needs and develop a plan that ensures those needs are met. Federal laws exist to ensure that nursing home residents have their needs met, and in the state of Kentucky, the Kentucky Nursing Home Reform Act specifies the standards for nursing home care.
Under the law, the nursing home must do the following:
These are general principals. The law goes further, with specific requirements as follows:
Each resident must receive the care needed to treat or prevent pressure sores, irritation, dryness or itching. Pressure sores occur when bedridden residents are not turned regularly, and can be exacerbated by poor nutrition. Nursing homes are required to ensure that new residents do not develop pressure sores, and that residents who enter the facility with existing pressure sores receive proper treatment. Anyone confined to a bed or chair must have their position changed at least once every two hours – more if discomfort is apparent. If required, supportive devices like pads, pillows and special mattresses must be provided in order to relieve pressure. Residents who are mobile must receive assistance daily with walking and other exercise in order to improve their circulation.
Residents must be assisted with care of the hands, feet, mouth, teeth and skin. A full bath or shower (including a shampoo) must be provided at least once a week. Bedridden residents must be bathed at least twice weekly, and should they become soiled, clothing and linens must be changed and washed immediately, and all affected areas on the body cleaned. Hair must be brushed or combed daily.
Residents are entitled to wear their own clothing and appropriate footwear. Clothing must be kept clean, and if the resident is non-ambulatory, he or she must be provided with appropriate foot coverings when not in bed.
Residents who can control their bladder and bowels must be assisted with using the toilet whenever necessary. Incontinent residents must be cleaned and changed as soon as possible. Catheters can never be used as a substitute for assisted toileting. Care must be taken to minimize urinary tract infection.
Each resident must be provided with enough fluids to prevent dehydration and maintain good health. Fresh water must be provided on bedside tables, and extra care must be taken in warm weather to prevent dehydration.
Residents who have difficulty eating must be assisted in a timely fashion. Food that is meant to be eaten hot must be served hot, and food that is meant to be eaten cold must be served cold. Feeding tubes and other adaptive devices must not be used unless they are medically necessary.
Residents must be weighed regularly, and their temperature, respiration rate and blood pressure taken at least once a month – more often if a physician deems it necessary.
Residents who have special needs must be provided with mental health evaluations and treatment, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other measures as deemed necessary by their physician.
Any failure to abide by these requirements can result in sanctions under the law of Kentucky, and could also give rise to a claim for damages on behalf of the resident or his or her family. An elder abuse lawyer can help you to determine if you have cause for a claim.