Historic measure aimed at reducing Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse

State lawmakers have passed a historic nursing home reform bill and sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature, despite the protests of nursing home lobbyists who had fought measures to increase staffing in Illinois nursing homes, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Advocates say it is the biggest step taken in decades to reduce the risks of Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect as well as abuse in neglect in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities throughout Illinois.
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The bill became one step closer to reality after passing out of the state legislature following tense eleventh-hour negotiations. The Tribune, which has conducted a number of exhaustive investigations detailing Illinois’ ailing nursing home system, called it “a historic bill that aims to undo a half-century of failed policies and end a legacy of violence in which nursing home residents were raped, assaulted and murdered.”

As we reported on our Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, the industry fought reform even as evidence continued to mount that mentally ill felons being housed in nursing homes and inadequate staffing levels have led to a host of dangerous conditions.

The Tribune reports the sides reached some agreement in the 159-page bill; the governor’s top health care advisor, Michael Gelder, was hugged by both the industry’s top lobbyist and one of its toughest critics after the proposed law passed out of the House with a 118-0 vote.

“It sends a very clear message that nursing homes are going to provide high-quality care, and they’re not going to be dominated by individuals who have put profit ahead of the care and needs of their residents,” Gelder said.

The measure would enhance criminal background checks and psychological evaluations of incoming residents and separate dangerous patients from residents by placing them in secure wards. It would also require a significant increase in nursing home staffing and mandate more rigorous safety and treatment standards for mentally ill or dangerous residents.

The bill’s most ambitious measures would move thousands of residents with mental health issues into smaller residential programs. While lawmakers were jubilant, they acknowledged the real work will be in implementing and regulating the new guidelines.

The Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers and elder abuse attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.