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Federal and Indiana Nursing Home Regulations / Laws You Need to Know

Updated September 6, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

As your family members get older, it is sometimes necessary to move them into a nursing home. You can do all of the research that you want to decide on a good place. Unfortunately, there’s still the fear that something awful could happen. Elder abuse cases are very serious. Stay informed to protect your loved ones.

Federal Nursing Home Laws

Elder abuse and nursing home laws are put in place to prevent the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of elderly people by nursing home staff. They are meant to ensure that certain standards of care are maintained, such as mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Each resident is expected to have an individualized plan of care upon admission. Faculty should outline the resident’s specific needs and how the home plans to meet them. These plans should be updated as needed.

Residents have a right to the following:

  • Nutritious meals and dietary services
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Medical social services
  • Proper primary and dental health care
  • Medications, along with appropriate dispensing, receiving, and administering
  • Privacy regarding personal, material, and financial matters when requested
  • Assistance and special services for residents incapable of daily living activities or otherwise in need of personalized care
  • Treatment that doesn’t violate a resident’s dignity or respect

Nursing homes should be adequately staffed to offer the greatest level of care. There should be a registered nurse (RN) on duty for eight consecutive hours each day and emergency healthcare available twenty-four hours daily. Complaint investigations are usually followed up with an inspection of the nursing home.

These requirements were put in place by a number of federal laws.

Nursing Home Reform Act

Enacted by Congress in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) covered special requirements and quality-of-care rules for long-term care nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. It is a federal law that is enforced in every state, including Indiana. NHRA outlined resident rights as well as staffing and operational requirements for nursing homes. Some of the most powerful requirements are as follows:

  • Conducting comprehensive, accurate assessments of how residents function
  • Preventing the decline of health and well-being unless it’s medically unavoidable, and providing services if and when decline occurs
  • Providing supervision and assistive devices to maintain physical abilities and prevent accidents
  • Ensuring that the resident is free to choose the activities, schedules, and healthcare they desire
  • Maintaining accurate and complete clinical records
  • Guaranteeing easy access to records

Older Americans Act

The Older Americans Act (OAA) is a federal initiative that was enacted in 1965 in response to concerns about elderly residents—specifically concerns about the lack of community-based social services available to residents. The OAA provides federal grants that can be used for enrichment of programs to the benefit the elderly, including:

  • Funding for nursing homes and senior centers
  • Resources for community planning and social services
  • Research and development projects
  • Training for personnel about aging residents
  • Protection of elder rights
  • Meals and job training for older Americans in need
  • Health and nutrition programs

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is a federal program that exists in every state. It’s enforced by state ombudsmen who advocate for nursing home residents. They also investigate alleged cases of exploitation, neglect, and abuse. Ombudsmen work to resolve complaints and elder rights issues on behalf of individual residents and their families. The attorneys at WKW can help explain the state Ombudsman Program and how it can help your family.

Indiana Nursing Home Regulations & Laws

The federal government relies on states and individual municipalities to enforce elder rights laws. All states, including Indiana, have Adult Protective Services (APS) programs to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect and to investigate alleged cases.

Nursing homes in Indiana are licensed under the Indiana State Department of Health, Long-Term Care Division. The department inspects every nursing home in the state annually, investigates complaints, and compiles the requests in a public survey report.

Indiana requires that nursing homes uphold their duty of care by cooperating with federal guidelines. Failure to do so could result in negligence.

Residents who are admitted to nursing homes retain all of their fundamental, civil, human and basic rights and liberties. These elder rights include:

  • Being treated with respect and dignity as an individual, free from discrimination
  • Being adequately informed of their rights
  • Being adequately informed of the facility’s rules and Indiana long term care regulations
  • Given adequate time to process and review contracts prior to signing
  • Confidentiality in regard to personal affairs, visits, and care
  • Freedom to choose whether or not to participate in activities as a resident, citizen of the municipality, state, and nation
  • Having a clean, safe place to call home
  • Reasonable security for possessions
  • Access to medical care
  • Freedom from being restrained or made to perform services for the home
  • Being notified prior to any changes in living situations, including transfers and discharges

Contact a Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorney Today

If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, exploited, or neglected at their nursing home, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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