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Will proposed nursing home reform become a reality?


For decades, the nursing home industry has been appealing to the government for more money to improve its operations. At long last, care facilities throughout the country may receive much-needed financial help to improve processes and create safer environments for patients.

Federal legislation with a price tag of $400 billion could represent a long-awaited, widespread overhaul.

Comprehensive changes

Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities accounted for three in 10 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. The statistic is alarming considering the extremely small proportion that this specific population composes.

If enacted, the comprehensive nursing home reform will take various forms and include:

  • Increasing salaries and improving benefits to minimize turnover in facilities throughout the country due to lower wages
  • Establishing processes that set minimum staffing thresholds
  • Mandating an infection prevention and control specialist onsite
  • Increase the daily required hours for a registered nurse from eight to 24 hours
  • Strengthen state inspections and identify low-performing facilities to be placed into a “special focus” program to improve quality of care
  • End required arbitration for residents and families involved in disputes

The legislation also calls for a test program to identify if smaller nursing homes housing five to 14 residents result in improved quality of life and better standards of care. Equally as necessary is the increased collaboration of residents and loved ones in critical decision-making. Features of the experimental facilities would include private rooms and accessible outdoor areas.

The spotlight on nursing homes since the start of the pandemic has revealed countless problems within an archaic system. While sweeping changes can increase the safety of residents, the smallest of oversights can still result in serious injuries and deaths.