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Revised nursing home rules give residents more control

Mississippi residents who have family members living in nursing homes may be interested in learning that following a revision of federal rules, their loved ones may be able to be more involved with their own healthcare. According to a director at the advocacy group Consumer Voice, the rule revisions could transform the care that nursing home residents receive.

The secretary of Health and Human Services proposed the regulation changes, which will happen in three phases. The first phase began in November and addressed making the nursing facility feel more like a home, including allowing snacks and alternative meals outside of normal, scheduled meals. Additionally, residents can now also choose their roommates, meaning siblings or same-sex couples can share a room. Family members can also visit whenever the nursing home resident wishes as long as the rights of the other residents are not violated.

The revisions also cover potential abuse. The definition of nursing home abuse was expanded to include financial exploitation. Licensed professionals who have received disciplinary action in the past due to physical, mental or financial abuse cannot be hired by nursing homes. Finally, the facility must hire enough properly licensed staff members to meet the residents' needs, and they must have the training to deal with dementia.

When family members put loved ones into nursing homes, they expect that their loved ones will be provided with the medical care they need. If family members notice signs of abuse or neglect that cause serious harm to their loved ones, a personal injury attorney may assist them with filing a lawsuit against the staff members who caused the abuse and the nursing home facility that hired them. Compensation may be sought by families for their loved ones' medical bills and other damages depending on the severity of the abuse.

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