Quality living has been the topic of debate lately in Illinois, where, according to Families for Better Care, Inc., a citizen advocacy group based in Tallahassee, Florida, nursing home care ranks one of the lowest of the low. For the second consecutive year Illinois has received a failing grade from Families for Better Care, dropping two spots in the national rankings from 42 in 2013 to 44 in 2014.
The Land of Lincoln scored failing or below average grades in 5 of 8 categories, placing lowest in direct care staffing hours per resident (47th), the percentage of facilities with deficiencies (44th), and the percentage of facilities with severe deficiencies (39th), according to the report.
“Illinois’s ranking shows that nursing homes continued to be riddled with problems,” said Families for Better Care executive director Brian Lee in a statement. “The state remains among the worst in hiring enough staff to care for residents.”
As Lee notes, the hiring of qualified workers appears to be one of many glaring problem of Illinois’s poor performance. Local lawmakers are making attempts to compensate for lack of staff and substandard facilities by adopting newer and more technology-based methods to improve its national standing. And one prospective law, with roots in Illinois, hopes to extend its reach nationwide. Below are five laws and prospective laws you should be aware of:
1.) Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act
There are roughly 1,200 long-term care facilities in the state of Illinois, serving more than 100,000 residents. Those are dense numbers. Over the summer, Illinoi Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced the “Put a Registered Nurse in the Nursing Home Act,” which would require nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid reimbursement to have a direct-care Registered Nurse on duty 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
2.) Video Cameras in Nursing Homes
The latest proposal from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would allow video cameras and audio recording devices to be installed inside the rooms of residents, a measure that hopes to curb deficiencies and staff abuse by creating a more transparent environment. The proposal —with remnants of earlier bill that failed to muster bipartisan support in the past — hopes to be a game changer in the quest to protect resident’s rights and their safety.
3.) Illinois Department of Public Health Ombudsman Program
In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill expanding the Ombudsman Program, which allows residents of long-term care facilities and their families to file grievances through an online portal at the Illinois Department of Health website. Starting January 1, 2015, older adults and persons with disabilities ages 18 to 59 who live in a community setting will receive the same advocacy services as people who reside in nursing homes.
4.) Pathways to Community Living Program
In Illinois, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services partners with the Department of Human Services, the Department on Aging, and the Illinois Housing Development Authority for the Pathways to Community Living Program, a subset of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006. Under the Pathways initiative, the state has increased community services and rebalanced the state’s long term care systems by providing appropriate, person-centered services for individuals interested in transitioning from institutional settings to qualified home and community based settings.
5.) The Nursing Home Care Act
The Illinois General Assembly adopted the Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA) in 1979, a law that gives nursing home residents complete “power of attorney” should they choose to file suite against a home and/or owner, along with outlining several laws defining residents’ rights. This includes but is not limited to: 1.) The right to religious freedom. 2.) The right to refuse treatment. 3.) The right to be cared for by their own doctor under their own health insurance or expense.