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In order to help improve nursing home residents’ quality of life and environment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued new guidance for nursing homes. Beginning June 12, 2009, nursing home regulators will have a sharpened focus on resident rights in areas such as:

· Ensuring they live with dignity;

· Offering choices in care and services;

· Accommodating the environment to each of their needs and preferences; and

· Creating a more homelike environment, including access for visitors.

According to CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera, the improvements are intended to transform the nursing homes into environments that are more like their homes through environmental changes and resident-centered care giving.

The idea is to de-institutionalize the physical environments of nursing homes by doing things such as eliminating noise from overhead paging systems or alarms and by not serving meals on institutional trays. In addition, the care will have to be person-centered and emphasize individualization, relationships, and a psychological environment that welcomes each resident and offers comfort. It is also important that residents have the right to choices concerning their schedule. Something as simple as encouraging the residents to wear clothing as opposed to hospital gowns can make a large difference in making the nursing home’s atmosphere more like a home.

The new guidance states,

“Many facilities cannot immediately make these types of changes, but it should be as goal for all facilities that have not yet made these types of changes to work toward them.”

The new CMS regulations can be found here.

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