Federal Regulations for Nursing Homes

Under the law, residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities can expect to be protected from abuse and neglect. In fact, there are  many laws—both federal and state—that accomplish this, and we’ll take a look at some of them now. Also, residents should expect to be entitled to privacy, security, and a host of other rights.

Federal Nursing Home Regulations

In 1987, Congress put into place legislation that required nursing homes that were participating in Medicare and Medicaid to comply with certain rules pertaining to quality of care. They did this in response to many reports of widespread neglect and abuse coming from within nursing homes. This legislation, called the Nursing Home Reform Act, states that nursing homes “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychological well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.” In order to take part in Medicare and Medicaid, these facilities have to comply with the federal requirements for long-term care facilities.

So under these regulations, nursing homes have to:

  • Have sufficient nursing staff.
  • Conduct at first a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the functional capacity of each resident
  • Develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident.
  • Prevent the deterioration of a person’s ability to bathe, dress, groom, transfer and ambulate, toilet, eat, and to communicate.
  • If someone cannot carry out the activities of daily living, they must provide the necessary services in order to maintain good nutrition, grooming, and personal oral hygiene.
  • See that all residents get proper treatment and assistive devices to keep their auditory and visual abilities.
  • See that residents don’t develop pressure sores and, if they do, give them necessary treatment to promote healing, keep away infection, and keep new sores from appearing.
  • Give appropriate treatment and services to those incontinent residents to give back as much normal bladder functioning as possible.
  • See that residents get adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent any accidents.
  • Keep acceptable parameters of nutritional status.
  • Give each resident sufficient fluid intake to keep up proper hydration and health.
  • See that residents are free of any significant errors to medications.
  • Promote each individual’s quality of life.
  • Maintain dignity and respect for each resident.
  • Ensure residents have the right to choose activities, schedules, and health care
  • Give pharmaceutical services to meet needs of each resident
  • Be administered in a way that allows the facility to use any and all resources both effectively and efficiently
  • Keep accurate, complete, and easily accessible clinical records on each resident.

State Nursing Home Regulations

Those facilities that get funds from Medicare or Medicaid have to, at a minimum, follow the federal nursing home regulations. However, some states have also adopted tougher laws. You should check with your local health department for the specific regulations in your state, and any information about each state’s laws may also be found online.