Regulations for Nursing & Residential Care Homes

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Nursing homes are designed for residents who need special care and can't quite function day-to-day without monitoring and assistance from a trained nurse or aide. Residential care homes are designed for those residents who can generally live independently, but occasional need assistance from a nursing professional. States regulate nursing and residential care homes to protect the residents' rights and ensure that they are getting the proper care. Check with your state agency for requirements specific to your state.

Submit Construction Plans

Before any construction is started, most states, including Florida, Illinois and Louisiana, require the building or owners to submit copies of the building plans and construction specifications for approval to ensure that you meet state legislated nursing home and residential care standards.

Comply with Zoning Codes

Safety is a major factor in caring for people with disabilities and special needs. Similar to other states, Vermont's Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living requires you to "provide written evidence to the licensing agency of compliance with local zoning codes, or a statement signed by the city, town or village clerk that such a code has not been adopted in the community." Zoning codes could be set in place for a number of factors, such as to protect residents from high crime areas or to meet state initiatives to provide equal housing opportunities.

Order an Inspection

Your facilities must be inspected before you open to the public. Submitting to inspection 90 days before opening is standard. It gives you enough time to make changes and modifications as requested by the state in order to open on schedule.

Limit Number of Residents

States limit the number of residents that you can properly care for in each facility. Overcrowding a facility could reduce the quality of care for your patients. The argument has been made many times in hospitals as well as classrooms; if nurses are attending more patients than they can handle, some patients will be neglected. Adhere to state license regulations and only accept the number of residents that your particular license allows. Be sure to hire enough properly trained staff to attend to those residents' needs.

Adhere to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987

According to the Elder and Nursing Home Abuse Legal Guide, which explains the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, "all residents in nursing homes are entitled to receive quality care and live in an environment that improves or maintains the quality of their physical and mental health. This entitlement includes freedom from neglect, abuse, and misappropriation of funds. Neglect and abuse are criminal acts whether they occur inside or outside a nursing home. Residents do not surrender their rights to protection from criminal acts when they enter a facility." The full Residents' Bill of Rights can be viewed on your state human services site or sites that cater to the elderly, such as

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