Nursing Home Regulations

Angie SzumlinskiNews

When I graduated from nursing school 40 years ago (yes, I was 3 years old), I said I would never work in a nursing home. My opinion of nursing homes was based on nothing other than rumor; they smell like urine, people sit in wheelchairs with food on their faces, everyone is tied down, you go there to die, etc. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a nursing home for an interview and saw and smelled much of what everyone was saying. That was 40 years ago, fast forward 2023. 

We have come a long way, thank goodness! Our centers are beautiful, the don’t have lingering odors, they provide rehabilitative care for residents to support their goals to return home and provide long-term care for those residents unable to live independently. Do all centers do this well? Of course not, just like any other profession, there are good and bad providers however, overall, we are doing just fine. In a recent article from a news station in Illinois, it discussed new laws to guarantee older adults have more rights to be free of abuse if they live in a nursing home. The article used an example of making it illegal for nursing home residents to perform labor or services unless it is therapeutic and, on the resident’s, medical record.  

Seriously, I remember residents folding washcloths and napkins, setting the tables in the dining room, “dusting” the front entry tables, etc. because they WANTED to. No one forced them and no one punished them if they didn’t do these things, it was their choice to “help.” I guess I never considered this “abuse.” Sure, care plans are important for maintaining resident care and assisting in meeting goals but unless these types of tasks are a daily occurrence do we need to add it to the care plan? Apparently, so would this be considered an activity? Where would you document this on the care plan? Maybe under occupational therapy? Anyway, I will get off my soap box but why can’t we just let it be? We have more regulations than any other industry aside from the nuclear industry and now we add more. Whew, let’s continue to provide the best care we can for our elders by spending more time with them and less time with our eyes on a computer screen. Stay informed and stay well!