New Nursing Home Rules Offer Residents More Control Of Their Care

About 1.4 million residents of nursing homes across the country now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.

The changes reflect a shift toward more “person-centered care,” including requirements for speedy care plans, more flexibility and variety in meals and snacks, greater review of a person’s drug regimen, better security, improved grievance procedures and scrutiny of involuntary discharges.

“With proper implementation and enforcement, this could really transform a resident’s experience of a nursing home,” said Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the Consumer Voice, a national group that advocates for residents’ rights.

The federal Medicare and Medicaid programs pay for most of the nation’s nursing home care — roughly $75 billion in 2014 — and in return, facilities must comply with government rules. The new regulations, proposed late last year by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, take effect in three phases. The first kicked in in November.

– KHN

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