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Nursing Home Regulation

As the population ages and people live longer, nursing homes and the care they provide will become even more important to thousands of Illinois citizens. Fortunately, the quality of care provided by nursing homes is subject to the requirements of both federal law and the state Nursing Home Care Act, which is enforced by the Illinois Department of Public Health (on the web at www.idph.state.il.us).

The Nursing Home Care Act regulates almost every aspect of nursing home operations. It specifies that (as much as possible) residents of nursing homes retain the same rights as they had before entering the nursing home. These include the rights to manage their affairs, to privacy, to receive visitors, and to worship as they please.

The Act governs the quality of the care provided to nursing home residents and establishes minimum standards that nursing homes must meet with respect to everything from the handling of the resident's funds, to the screening of staff, to the provision of medical care. All nursing homes in the state are required to be licensed, and, in order to keep their licenses, the nursing homes must follow the provisions of the Act and be ready to have their operations inspected by the Department of Public Health for compliance.

As the nursing home "watchdog" agency, the Department of Public Health ensures compliance through a combination of thorough regular inspections (done at least once every six to 15 months) and inspections in response to complaints received throughout the year. In either case, inspections are conducted without notice to the nursing home, and the schedules of inspections are changed annually to make sure that a deficient nursing home does not have a chance to "clean up its act" before the inspector comes.

Also, if a nursing home has a history of problems and deficiencies, it will probably be inspected by the Department of Public Health more frequently than would a nursing home with a good record of compliance.

If the Department of Public Health finds some deficiency (whether during a regular inspection or in response to a complaint), it requires the nursing home to come up with a plan to correct the problem. It can fine the nursing home for serious violations of state law, in an amount up to $10,000 per violation, and can further recommend fines for violations of federal law. Additionally, it may take other kinds of enforcement actions, such as forcing the nursing home to curtail admissions or appointing a qualified temporary manager, or it may suspend or even revoke the nursing home's license to operate.

Although the number of regulations governing nursing homes is high, they are intended to promote the important goal of ensuring that nursing homes are safe and healthy places for the residents to live.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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