New Federal Regulations Grant a Voice to Massachusetts Nursing Home Residents
It could get easier for nursing home residents in Massachusetts to leave a facility if they want to. On July 1st, the state will implement a new set of federal regulations designed to give a voice to elders thinking about returning home.
The Executive Director of Mass Home Care -- Al Norman -- says there are seven to ten-thousand people in Massachusetts nursing homes who could be cared for at home. But he says residents' desires are often silenced by nurses and social workers who fear risking their licenses in the event of a post-release accident. He says those concerns shouldn't impact a resident's eligibility for community care.
"The elder should be the one who is given the civil right of returning to a less restrictive setting -- even if there are some risks involved that the nursing home might not be willing to accept."
Since October 2011 Federal regulations have required nursing homes to offer patients and family members the chance to speak with a professional about the option of returning home. But Norman says that doesn't mean nursing homes have been acting on this information. Starting July 1st, nursing homes will be required to provide a weekly list of individuals interested in moving home to representatives of one of the state's 27 Aging Services Agencies.
"It's really holding the nursing facilities responsible to a higher level of performance in terms of asking the right questions and making the actual linkage."
Norman says agency staff will meet with patients and develop a "discharge planning evaluation." He says the state agencies will receive one-point-four-million dollars in federal funding for fiscal year 2013 to implement the program. Representatives of the nursing home industry could not immediately be reached for comment.