How are nursing homes inspected and regulated in Illinois?

Illinois families often keep elderly family members in nursing homes so that their safety is ensured and that they are provided with adequate healthcare. Doctors are readily available to care for nursing home patients, rendering these places suitable for people who are weak or suffering from illnesses. However, elder abuse, malnutrition, bed sores and even death are sometimes reported from some nursing homes.

To ensure that nursing home occupants receive good care from authorized nursing home staff, many private and public agencies regulate, license and inspect nursing facilities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Illinois Department of Public Health are two such agencies that keep a check on nursing homes. However, in some cases, these agencies may have overlapping jurisdictions.

The IDPH is responsible for ensuring that nursing homes comply with state regulations. This department along with the CMS also ascertains that the facilities that accept Medicaid and Medicare payments meet certification rules and federal guidelines. Every year, the IDPH inspects 1,300 nursing homes and also responds to almost 6000 complaints.

During these inspections, which are carried out in three to four days, the policies, staff, procedures, finances and equipment are checked. Surveyors may also employ a team consisting of a professional nurse, nutritionist and other professionals who may be required to analyze complaints against the nursing home. Inspections done after a complaint is received are usually shorter than annual inspections.

Generally, nursing homes are inspected once every year without notification. No schedule is adhered to for such inspections and facilities which have more complaints are surveyed more often. If the facility does not meet the required standards, the nursing home may be initially ordered to take corrective actions and may later be fined, face license suspension or closure as dictated by federal and state laws.

Source: IDPH.State.IL.US, “Who Regulates Nursing Homes?,” accessed on August 14, 2014