The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) sets the federal quality standards for nursing homes. The Act ensures nursing homes provide high-quality care to seniors, keeping them from physical, emotional, and social abuse/neglect. Nursing home facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid are required to meet the NHRA standards. A certification process is also in place and requires states to conduct random surveys to make sure NHRA Standards are met.
The Nursing Home Reform Act standards
The NHRA requires that nursing homes provide the following:
- Dietary services
- Pharmaceutical services
- Social services
- Nursing services
- Rehabilitation services
- Periodic assessments
- Comprehensive care plans
- A full-time social worker for homes with more than 120 beds
The federal government is responsible for setting the requirements while the state government enforces them. Any nursing home facility that fails to meet the minimum standard care requirements may be subject to penalties from the federal government.
The NHRA Bill of Rights
Nursing homes must protect and promote the rights of all of their residents under this bill. The Bill of Rights included in the Nursing Home Reform Act officially defines the basic rights of nursing home residents.
The NHRA states nursing home residents have the right to:
- Receive necessary care (medical, physical, psychological, and social), privacy, and the security of possessions
- Welcome visitors or refuse visitors, remain in the facility until transfer or discharge, and participate in resident and family groups
- Treatment with dignity, exercise self-determination (freedom to make their own choices) and communicate freely
- Participate in the review of their care plans, choose a physician, refuse medication or treatment from nurses or others, receive all info in advance about changes in care, treatment, or status in the facility, and voice grievances without retaliation or discrimination
- Enjoy freedom from abuse, mistreatment, neglect, and physical restraints
NHRA enforcement and legal action
Medicare and Medicaid compose most of the payments for nursing home care. To receive Medicare and Medicaid funding in the United States, nursing home facilities must adhere to NHRA standards.
The federal government sets nursing home standards. State governments certify and survey nursing homes and enforce the imposed laws. To help with enforcement, states must randomly survey NHRA facilities. They must do so at least once every 15 months or when there are complaints. Funding for all state responsibilities occurs through Medicare and Medicaid.
Surveys focus on residents’ rights, quality of care, quality of life, and the services provided. Nursing homes are subject to a variety of government penalties if the law finds them guilty of providing insufficient care that violates the NHRA.
The denial of Medicare or Medicaid funds, fines, state monitoring, and temporary state management also are grounds for legal action. If proper enforcement is not in place, many nursing homes will continue to provide inadequate care while receiving no federal or state government consequences. That cannot happen.
If a senior is neglected or abused in a nursing home, legal action should be implemented. A personal injury lawyer can help families make the decision regarding whether to file a personal injury suit to recover compensation for nursing home abuse or neglect.