Care for Nursing Home Residents to Be Updated in Pennsylvania

Long-term care© Dean Mitchell / Getty Images Signature / Canva

PENNSYLVANIA — Regulations that govern care for residents of skilled nursing facilities are on track to be updated for the first time in nearly 25 years following a meeting Friday where Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson explained the benefits of the regulations to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), which unanimously approved the regulations, and stakeholders.

“Unanimous approval [Friday] by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission is an incredible milestone in the years-long process to develop regulations to improve the care that residents receive in skilled nursing facilities across the state,” said Dr. Johnson. “These regulations incorporate the valuable input of interested stakeholders, including industry groups, resident advocates and the public. The carefully crafted regulations benefit residents, staff and facility operators.”

If approved by the Attorney General’s Office, the regulations would affect more than 72,000 people living in Pennsylvania’s 682 skilled nursing facilities and could be published by the end of the year and be implemented in stages in 2023.

The approved regulations are based on the latest research, input from subject matter experts and industry stakeholders and informed by lessons learned during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In addition to addressing nursing staff requirements and incrementally increasing the minimum resident care hours, the regulations:

  • align with stronger federal requirements for infection prevention and control, and emergency preparedness,
  • establish protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression,
  • require orientation for staff on the topic of dementia management and communication skills,
  • align with federal requirements related to resident care plans and resident rights, and
  • increase transparency regarding ownership of facilities and ownership structures, including an opportunity for public comment on applications for licensure and changes of ownership.
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The regulations will apply only to the 682 skilled nursing facilities licensed by the Department of Health. Personal care homes and assisted living homes typically housing residents with less acute health care needs are regulated by the Department of Human Services under separate regulations.

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