Nursing Home Justice Blog
The federal government has long since recognized the issue of nursing home abuse and mistreatment in America. It wasn’t until 1987 that official legislation was passed outlining nursing home staff members’ specific responsibilities and the duty they owe each resident. Today, these laws and regulations set the standard for the type of nursing home care residents should expect and help hold facilities accountable for their negligence.
The Nursing Home Reform Act, also known as the 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA’ 87), helped set minimum standards of care for nursing homes in the United States. This landmark legislation aimed to improve the overall quality of nursing home care and combat abuse and neglect.
The Nursing Home Reform Act came about due to a growing concern regarding the quality-of-care nursing home residents received. This heightened awareness was primarily due to a 1986 study by the Institute of Medicine titled Improving the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes.
This study aimed to report on the current state of nursing home care and recommend changes in policy and procedure. The researchers concluded that many nursing home residents lived in appalling conditions and staff members were grossly incompetent in providing for residents’ most basic needs.
Researchers stated, “in many other government-certified nursing homes, admitted individuals receive very inadequate–sometimes shockingly deficient–care that is likely to hasten the deterioration of their physical, mental, and emotional health.”
It was apparent that a proper regulatory system wasn’t in place to ensure that only qualified nursing home facilities remained in operation. The findings from this research helped lay the groundwork for the eventual Nursing Home Reform Act that was soon to come.
The Nursing Home Reform Act brought about many changes to current policies and procedures. Some of these new “policies” may seem standard and straightforward. However, no law protected residents’ most basic rights before this legislation.
Additionally, these new laws changed how inspectors and ombudsmen visited nursing homes. Their approach became very resident-focused, spending more time interviewing each resident and observing their living conditions rather than talking to nursing home staff. From mandatory nursing and rehabilitative services to the establishment of fundamental resident rights, the passing of the NHRA began a new era of nursing home care.
The NHRA established several mandatory services that nursing homes must provide. Some of which include:
The NHRA also details specific requirements regarding staff member training and certification. For example, nursing aides must complete a State-approved training program before they provide resident care if they’re not licensed health professionals. Nursing aides must also receive ongoing training and regular performance reviews.
OBRA ’87 also established the Residents’ Bill of Rights—a list of individual rights to protect residents from abuse and neglect. These include the right to:
These rights are fundamental to each resident seeking nursing home care, and if they are violated, nursing homes could be liable.
Even 30 years after the passing of the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing home abuse and neglect remains to be an ongoing issue.
Despite the seemingly endless cycle of nursing home abuse, lawmakers still haven’t given up. They continue to create new legislation to address this issue head-on and conduct research to monitor trends.
The Biden-Harris administration has announced new steps to improve nursing home care. The comprehensive plan has several initiatives, including establishing minimum staffing requirements, cracking down on illegal debt collection, increasing accountability, and more.
While the NHRA and new legislation are huge steps toward justice, it’s up to the states to ensure that these laws and regulations get enforced. States must monitor nursing homes and hold them accountable for violating any resident rights or failing to uphold the standard of care that the NHRA established.
If you or your loved one are currently in a nursing home, it’s vital that you are familiar with the Nursing Home Reform Act to understand your residents’ rights.
The elder abuse lawyers will personally listen to your story and walk with you on your recovery journey. We’ll use our resources to find all liable parties and hold them accountable for their negligence. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at (303) 775-8128.