Wednesday, May 11, 2016

CMS Issues Guidance to Surveyors on Federal Requirements for Providing Services to Justice Involved Individuals

Lyn Bentley, MSW

On May 3, 2016 CMS posted a Survey & Certification (S&C) memo that provides new surveyor guidance “… clarifying requirements for providing services to justice involved individuals in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), nursing facilities (NFs), hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/IID). Specifically, this guidance seeks to assure high quality care that is consistent with essential patient rights and safety for all individuals.” The memo is effective immediately.

For SNFs/NFs, the memo emphasizes the importance of each facility ensuring the rights of all residents consistent with law and regulation. Importantly, nursing home residents must not only be able to exercise their rights as residents of the facility and as citizens of the United States (e.g., the right to vote in elections), but also have the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal from the facility in exercising those rights.

The memo specifies, “The facility may not establish policies or impose conditions on the resident that result in restrictions which violate federal law and regulation outlined in 42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B. Examples of prohibited facility restrictions include, but are not limited to:

• The facility makes a determination as to which visitors a resident may or may not see. The resident has the right to choose his or her own visitors;

• The facility requires or implements a DOC or law enforcement restriction that the individual must reside in a locked unit in the SNF or NF for reasons that are not derived directly and exclusively from the resident’s assessment(s) as conducted by the facility’s medical professionals;

• The facility does not allow a resident to possess a personal telephone and/or denies a resident the right to conduct telephone conversations in private; or,

• The facility has a requirement that a resident must wear an item (e.g., a color-coded bracelet) that indicates to staff that they are justice involved.”

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