Nursing Home Standards: What You Should Expect


September 05, 2022 | Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Nursing homes have and are expected to perform a specific duty of care. They have licensed operations with staff with certification and legal permission to perform their duties. All of these criteria are in place under Nursing Home Reform Act so that residents in nursing homes, for a living can automatically expect specific levels of care to be provided.

Unlike a straight contract between a customer and a business, which is only as good as the terms of the agreement being followed by the parties involved – duties of care and licensing impose a higher level of expectation and standard to be delivered by nursing homes regardless of their business accounts statuses. Reach out to The Rooth Law Firm for a clear explanation.

Nursing Home Regulation Laws

When choosing nursing home care, it is critical to know that they comply with and follow the regulatory laws at the federal and state levels to operate. Having this verified, residents are guaranteed to receive the care they need.

One of the regulatory laws that set the standard for nursing home facilities is the Nursing Home Reform Act (1987). It was created to ensure that nursing homes were provided with modern equipment and trained staff members who were well-versed in their field. The law also requires nursing homes to provide residents with adequate food and water supplies and regular medical check-ups.

In Illinois, the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act sets standards for nursing home care facilities, which means that if you live in Illinois and are looking for nursing home care, the state will ensure that residents are treated with the best standards possible. Most importantly, it ensures that residents maintain their right to autonomy as much as possible.

General Care for Government Insurance Eligibility

Nursing homes are primary operations that tap into government health insurance programs like Medicare and state low income assistance programs. As a result, to be eligible to participate, nursing homes that participate agree to provide a standard of care defined by the government. That includes mental, physical, and psychosocial care where needed with involved residents.

The government enforces this baseline standard criterion set through audits and investigations, and violations are penalized financially or even criminally where necessary, and the law allows.

Families need to understand, however, that government standards for home care services are performance bars the nursing home should be meeting prospectively. The government agencies involved typically don’t know a violation or a problem until they receive reports after the fact or find a problem in an inspection. Alternatively, home care accreditation standards exist, but they are usually industry-determined standards, not government requirements.

State Medical Accommodation of Needs

Where a resident has been accepted into a nursing home, state laws then apply concerning the type of care provided and the minimum standards that should be met. These are often tied to licensure and the ability to keep in good practice. If not, and violations mount up, the licensing can be revoked on the facility or staff, shutting down operations.

As a business, that’s the last place a nursing home wants to be, so there is an incentive from a regulatory perspective to meet such standards proactively. Again, violations are found after the fact through case reviews, audits, and investigations – something nursing home neglect lawyers in Illinois see often.

Operational Requirements

Nursing homes are affected by state-level laws and municipal codes. Both dictate the level and amount of resources that should generally be provided in a nursing home regarding staffing levels, expertise, and capabilities, especially if operating as a 24/7 care facility.

Typically, these standards are spelled out as the number of people on site per patient per day. Where staffing levels dip, the facility must then bring in additional staffing to meet the operating deficit.

Care Plan Per Patient

An additional approach to care requirements that nursing homes must meet tends to be an individualized plan of how each resident will be addressed. That includes a comprehensive view and direction on the medical and physical needs of the patient as well as mental care.

Without this, nursing home staff don’t have a reference on how they are expected to operate with one resident from the other, aside from general procedures, which can turn into big mistakes. Administrative and medical staff on site are expected to be familiar with these care plans per resident and comply with them.

Basic Physical Care Assistance

Nursing homes are fundamentally expected to have the staff, equipment, and means to help elderly patients with daily needs, particularly with problems of incontinence and bowel control. Many times, residents need assisted-care living help because of ongoing health conditions that require trained staff to be available to provide such services. Neglecting these issues can result in serious problems ranging from lack of hygiene and rashes to infections to psychological damage.

In advanced cases, feeding tube technology and related medical equipment will be applied, and nursing homes must have procedures, training, and sufficient staffing to maintain such requirements. Operational challenges with planning and scheduling are insufficient arguments for not maintaining regular feeding and supporting assisted patients. In this regard, hydration, necessary fluids, and chronic pharmaceutical management fall into the same responsibility.

All of the above is in addition to the “reasonable person” standard of care understood when taking on the housing and support of an elderly person in a nursing home who needs personal care, nutritional standards, regular exercise, social interaction, and support from the community.

Help from Illinois Nursing Home Regulations Lawyer

The Rooth Law Firm has handled multiple cases of helping identify problems with facilities not meeting Illinois nursing home regulations.

Because nursing home care services have criteria from multiple sources as well as basic service expectations from society in general, the assumption is that they will operate above the board. Unfortunately, despite home care accreditation standards being in place, nursing home neglect lawyers in Illinois continue to have to pursue cases of abuse.

If you or a loved one are dealing with the same, The Rooth Law Firm can help as your Illinois nursing home abuse attorney. Call us, and our team will help determine your best course of action and how to correct what’s going on.