The federal government has proposed new regulations that govern how nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long term care facilities treat their residents.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the proposed regulations in the federal register in July 2015, and is taking public comments.
Many of the new provisions pertain to quality of life for facility residents. The regulations create new minimal standards for nursing staff – to – resident ratio, for example. It also strengthens requirements that facilities prevent infections, which according to CMS cause an estimated 388,000 deaths per year among the general populace. The regulations include a provision entitled “Freedom from Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation” that among other things prohibits facilities from employing staff who have been disciplined by a state for mistreating residents.
In one interesting provision, the regulations propose that residents who receive psychotropic drugs (which includes anti-psychotics) gradually have their doses reduced, probably as an attempt to reduce the use of chemical restraints in facilities.
These new proposed regulations aren’t yet binding rules, but they probably will be in the near future. By and large, the regulations protect facility residents and should be a welcome development for residents and their families. CMS has faced criticism of its regulations, enforcement and reporting in the past, and it is good that they are issuing new regulations.
Nota bene: For specific information on nursing home violations, families who are choosing a nursing home may find it helpful to view ProPublica’s nursing home violations database, including ProPublica’s New Jersey nursing home violations chart.