Nursing Home Residents May Get More Autonomy When it Comes to Care

ian-schneider-95541-300x200How much decision-making power does a Chula Vista nursing home resident get when it comes to his or her quality of care? According to a recent article from Kaiser Health News, seniors in Southern California and across the country may be able to have more autonomy through shifts in federal regulations. As the article explains, around 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes “now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.”

What does it mean for older adults in nursing homes to have more autonomy over their schedules and care? Could such shifts in care perhaps reduce the rate of nursing home abuse in Southern California and throughout the country?

Shift in Federal Rules Focuses on “Person-Centered Care”

What are the changes to federal rules and regulations, and how will they provide seniors in nursing homes (and their families) with more autonomy over their own care? As the article explains, since Medicare and Medicaid programs largely are responsible for paying for nursing home care in the United States, nursing homes must comply with Medicare and Medicaid rules and regulations. In 2014 alone, the federal programs paid about $74 billion to nursing homes. Last year, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Health and Human Services Secretary, proposed regulations that are to take effect in three different phases. The first phase, which took effect in November 2016, concerns patient autonomy in the nursing home setting.

The regulations are aimed at “making the nursing home feel more like a home.” The article notes that these regulations are part of a larger shift toward “person-centered care,” putting the needs of the individual patient in the nursing home (and his or her individual needs) over collective needs of the patient population. In other words, the changes aim toward a zooming-in on individual needs within the facility, and a tailoring approach that is not yet common in many nursing homes.

What Options Will Nursing Home Residents Now Have?

What does “person-centered care” mean in practice? The article lists some of the following matters over which nursing home residents will have more control:

  • Flexibility and variety in food choices;
  • Ability to choose a roommate;
  • Right to receive visitors at times of the patient’s choosing;
  • Improved review of patient’s drug regimen;
  • Better security for the patient;
  • Improved procedures for filing a grievance; and
  • Improved scrutiny of involuntary discharges.

Patients, in other words, get to have a say in “the design of their care plan and the design of their discharge plan,” while also having more information about the type of care plan that is ultimately put into place by the facility. The patient will have such information as what kind of care she will receive, what that type of care will entail, and who will be providing it.

With improved grievance procedures, and other changes that may help to ensure adequate staffing levels and staff competency, we also may see a reduction in the rate of nursing home neglect.

Contact a Chula Vista Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you have questions about how the new rules may affect you, or if you have concerns about an elderly loved one who currently resides in a nursing home, a dedicated Chula Vista nursing home abuse lawyer can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.

See Related Blog Posts:

Elder Health and Loneliness in California

Expansion to California’s Elder and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act

(image courtesy of Ian Schneider)