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Nursing home oversight changes ahead

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a proposed rule recently that will affect New York nursing homes as the first comprehensive update to national standards since 1991. Over the years, the number of recipients of Medicare who are residing in nursing homes has significantly increased, while 64 percent of nursing home residents are receiving Medicaid, making that program the leading payer of long-term care.

The new proposed rule will set higher standards for care quality in an effort to avoid nursing home errors that can lead to illness, injury and neglect for residents. According to the new standards, nursing homes must provide a number of services and establish protocols to ensure that residents receive a high degree of care. Failure to abide by these new rules could result in a nursing home losing its federal reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid.

The new rules would require that nursing home staff be properly trained to care for residents with dementia as well as to receive training targeted at preventing the abuse of the elderly. They would also require nursing homes to make staffing decisions based on the health of residents; require staff members to show that they are qualified to care for residents; require nursing homes to improve planning for discharge; and require nursing homes to allow staff with special skills, such as dietitians and therapy providers to write orders for follow-up care. Other changes will include requirements for nursing homes to offer greater food choices and flexibility, to update infection control programs and to strengthen the rights of residents.

Those who are victims of nursing home negligence often suffer serious physical and emotional trauma. These victims may benefit from the help of an attorney with experience in pursuing cases against nursing homes for neglect or abuse.

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