Nursing Home RegulationsThere are a number of federal and state laws to protect nursing home residents. Under these laws and regulations, nursing home residents are entitled to security, privacy, and optimal health. Under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing homes are required to provide “services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.”

The primary guideline for federal nursing home regulations is the Nursing Home Reform Act. The Nursing Home Reform Act states guidelines for every funded nursing home facility. Federal and state laws also provide residents and their families with the right to voice complaints about the facility. In the event that a resident is harmed as a result of negligent or abusive behavior, the resident has the right to pursue legal action against the nursing home.

Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987

Under the 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the Nursing Home Reform Act was put into place. The Nursing Home Reform Act regulates nursing home facilities that wish to receive funding for Medicare or Medicaid services. The Nursing Home Reform Act contains a Residents’ Bill of Rights that ensures that residents receive protection of individuality, dignity, privacy, and medical needs. Nursing home residents are entitled to care that is free from isolation, abuse, or improper medical treatment.

Federal Nursing Home Laws

The Nursing Home Reform Act and other legislation set forth guidelines for all aspects of a nursing home’s functioning. Each resident must receive a comprehensive care plan catered to his or her individual mental, physical, and psychosocial needs.

Basic Rights

Federal Nursing Home Reform Act laws state that residents are entitled to basic rights. These rights are similar to the rights afforded by the Constitution and other protective regulations. Nursing homes are required to promote the patient’s quality of life as much as possible. A resident’s physical, mental, or psychosocial state may not decline unless medically unavoidable. Residents have the right to maintain personal property and bank funds with the facility.

The resident’s ability to dress, bathe, groom, eat, ambulate and transfer, and communicate may not deteriorate unless medically unavoidable. If these tasks become too difficult, the facility is required to provide asstance. Furthermore, each nursing home must have sufficient staff to cater to all resident needs.

Right to Choose

Nursing home residents have the right to take part in the development of their comprehensive care plan. They have the right to choose their own personal physician and have access to their own medical records. Residents may organize and participate in family or resident council. Additionally, residents have the right to be free from inappropriate chemical and physical restraints. Restraints must be medically required in order to be used.

Health and Safety

Federal nursing home laws require that nutritional parameters are met. Additionally, patients must be provided with sufficient fluid intake so that hydration is maintained. Pharmaceutical services must be readily provided to residents. Nursing homes must undergo inspections to ensure cleanliness and safety for residents. Inspections ensure proper handling of food, medications, and contaminated materials.

Nursing homes are required to prevent patients from developing pressure sores, or bed sores, unless unavoidable due to a medical condition. Patients who develop pressure sores must be provided with proper treatment and services that promote healing, prevent pressure sore infection, and prevent the development of new sores.

State Nursing Home Laws

A number of nursing homes wish to receive federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid. In these cases, they must pass federal regulations at minimum. However, state nursing home laws can vary. Some states have adopted more rigorous approval processes and stricter guidelines. A state’s local health department is able to provide information regarding laws and regulations specific to each state.



“Nursing Home Reform Act (OBRA ‘87): 20 Years of History.” United States Senate Special Committee on Aging. United States Senate. Web. 26 May 2013.

Pear, Robert. “U.S. Recommending Strict New Rules at Nursing Homes.” New York Times 23 Jul 2000, n. pag. Web. 26 May. 2013.

Turnham, Hollis. “Federal Nursing Home Reform Act from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.”All Health. National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. Web. 26 May 2013.

Xiang, Zhang, and David C. Grabowski. “Nursing home staffing and quality under the nursing home reform act.” Gerontologist. 44.1 (2004): 13-23. Web. 26 May. 2013. Tampa car accident lawyer