Understanding the Standard of Care Expected in Nursing Homes
Certified nursing homes are required to provide certain standards of care to prevent injuries and promote the highest level of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being for residents.
Nursing Home Care Standards
Under federal and state regulations, nursing homes and long-term care facilities that receive Medicare funding are required to uphold high care standards for all facility residents. According to guidelines, nursing homes must ensure that each resident’s physical and mental health, treatments, therapies, medications, and personal needs are attended to with utmost care.
To prevent resident injuries often seen by nursing home abuse lawyers, nursing home standard of care regulations cover a wide range of health services.
Nursing homes are required to provide necessary assistance with a resident’s daily personal needs such as eating and drinking; dressing; grooming; bathing; toiletry; sitting, standing and walking; getting in and out of bed or a wheelchair, and communicating. Facilities must provide a sanitary living environment for each resident by furnishing clean linens and clothing, toiletry supplies, oral hygiene supplies, and grooming equipment.
Food and Nutrition
Nursing homes must provide each resident with a well-balanced diet with meals that meet daily nutritional and special dietary needs. Requirements include sufficient fluids; at least three meals per day, served at regular times, with a maximum span of 14 hours between breakfast and dinner; and bedtime snacks. Feeding tubes can only be used as a last resort because they lead to diminished functioning and medical and psychological problems.
Most nursing home residents take prescription medications for various medical conditions. Federal and state regulations require nursing homes and physicians to properly order, record, store, administer, and monitor resident medications. Federal regulations place special restrictions on the use of certain drugs. Tranquilizers, sedatives, and other nervous system depressant drugs can only be used if a resident’s medical need is clearly documented.
Regulations require nursing homes to have adequate staffing levels that meet the needs of each resident at all times. This includes licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants, and qualified caregivers. Facilities must post in a visible location the number of licensed and unlicensed nursing staff directly responsible for resident care for each shift on a daily basis. A licensed physician chosen by the resident or the resident’s representative must supervise each resident’s care. Physicians must see and evaluate each resident with face to face contact at least every 30 days, or more often if needed.