There are laws in place that are supposed to protect elderly nursing home residents from abuse and neglect and enforcement procedures established to ensure the law is followed. But laws and procedures are only effective if they are faithfully carried out, which is not the current state of things in the U.S. Clearly, the system that is supposed to protect our vulnerable elderly is badly broken.
Two U.S. senators from Pennsylvania have just released to the public a government-generated list of several hundred nursing homes that were flagged as among the worst in the country, but whose names until now were being withheld by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal entity responsible for oversight of the nursing care industry. They include 18 nursing facilities in Illinois.
CMS annually inspects nursing homes throughout the U.S. and rates them for quality according to a five-star system, publishing its detailed findings on the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare website. CMS identifies the most troubled facilities for inclusion in its Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, which entails extra scrutiny and oversight of consistently poorly performing homes where inspectors have documented abuse and neglect. The SFF program targets facilities that “substantially fail” to meet the standards of care mandated by federal regulations.