Ask for the policies and procedures when your loved one is in a Virginia nursing home

Sometimes, law makers do act with a desire to protect the public.

Through Virginia law does not have laws that address staffing in nursing homes (meaning the number of patients one nurse or CNA can serve), there are written rules and laws that affect how licensed nursing homes should be providing care.

One of the best ways for families to determine what care should be provided, (or at least, what care the nursing home thinks they should provide) is to request and examine their policies and procedures.

By law, nursing homes should have policies (and review and update them annually) that address the following areas of care pursuant to 12 VAC 5-371-140:

 1. Administrative records;

2. Admission, transfer and discharge;

3. Medical direction and physician services;

4. Nursing direction and nursing services;

5. Pharmaceutical services, including drugs purchased outside the nursing facility;

6. Dietary services;

7. Social services;

8. Activities services;

9. Restorative and rehabilitative resident services;

10. Contractual services;

11. Clinical records;

12. Resident rights and grievances;

13. Quality assurance and infection control;

14. Safety and emergency preparedness procedures; and

15. Professional and clinical ethics, including: a. Confidentiality of resident information; b. Truthful communication with residents; c. Observance of appropriate standards of informed consent and refusal of treatment; and d. Preservation of resident dignity, with special attention to the needs of the aged, the cognitively impaired, and the dying.

E. Personnel policies and procedures

F. Financial policies and procedures

And, according to section G. of that statute, “Policies shall be made available for review, upon request, to residents and their designated representatives.”

This is huge.

Want to know what the nurses think their job is? Concerned that you are not communicating with the Administrator? Ask to see the policies. Review them. Ask questions about them and kindly inquire as to how those policies and procedures are going to be met.

I hope facilities do follow their own policies. It would mean less work for nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys like me, but it would also mean better care for our loved ones which is the priority.

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Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.