Elderly woman sitting and looking to her left

5 Nursing Home Care Standards

One of the biggest aspects of the fight for better nursing homes involves standards. We want a nursing staff standard, high care standards, transparency standards, and more. Holding organizations up to high standards means it becomes very clear when they are not properly caring for residents and should be held accountable. A lack of standards can create murky waters, easy ways to hide poor care, and a lack of responsibility. California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) have a comprehensive list of care standards for nursing homes. Here are 5 of those nursing home care standards that everyone should know.

The Legal Side of Care Standards

There are both federal and California laws protecting standards of care. Most nursing homes accept Medicare and Medi–Cal payments in exchange for agreeing to uphold care standards and provide the best possible physical, mental and psychosocial nursing care.

“Unless it is medically unavoidable, nursing homes must ensure that a resident’s condition does not decline. Care, treatment and therapies must be used to maintain and improve health to the extent possible, subject to the resident’s right to choose and refuse services.”


However, this is not always the case. So it is important to know what standards are slipping and if you should say something.

Nursing Home Care Standards

Accommodation of Needs

“The facility should attempt to adapt such things as schedules, call systems, staff assignments and room arrangements to accommodate residents’ preferences, desires and unique needs.”


Within reason, nursing home staff and administrative personnel should attend to the specific, personal needs of each resident. That includes language and communication assistance–such as an interpreter–specific daily schedule preferences, and more. While some changes to a regular schedule might be necessary depending on staffing, the number of residents, and the facility’s accommodations, the staff should make every effort to personalize the residents’ care as much as possible.

Fluids and Hydration

We’ve spoken about hydration before and the detrimental effects dehydration has on elderly nursing home residents. Water and nourishment are the most basic needs and should be met. Some residents may not be able to ask for water or other drinks, so the staff should be offering a drink and ensuring this basic need is met.

“Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, confusion, constipation, fever, decreased urine output, and skin problems. Severe dehydration can lead to serious illness and death.”



There are a number of requirements surrounding medications and their disbursement. Among the primary standards is consent. Residents and/or their legal representative must give consent to medications, as well as any changes to medications.

Additionally, residents have a right to not be prescribed unnecessary drugs, prescribed certain medications for an extended period of time without adequate justification, and they have the right to not be chemically restrained.

All prescribed medications must be administered by licensed nurses or medical personnel, with a few exceptions. 

Accident Prevention

Nursing homes are required to thoroughly assess fall risks and examine risk factors in order to limit the number of falls. Unfortunately, roughly half of nursing home residents fall at least once every year. It is up to the nursing facility to ensure that this is avoided as much as possible without the use of restraints.

Some of the steps nursing homes can take include:

  • Keeping the resident environment as free of accident hazards as possible;
  • Giving each resident adequate supervision to prevent accidents; and
  • Using assistive devices that help improve resident safety.

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores, or bedsores, are a huge threat to nursing home residents. As health declines and the ability to freely and easily move tends to lessen. This results in residents sitting or laying in the same position and spot for extended periods of time.

Not only should the staff ensure the resident is regularly moved, but they should be vigilant about checking for bedsores and treating any that develop.

“To prevent pressure sores, nursing homes must keep a resident’s skin clean and dry, maintain good nutrition and keep pressure off of vulnerable parts of the body. Pressure is relieved by changing the resident’s position as often as necessary and using pressure relieving devices, such as pads and special mattresses.”


There are plenty of other standards currently in place for nursing homes, as well as others we wish to see implemented for the sake of better care. To learn more, visit the CANHR website.

If you or a love one have been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, call Gharibian Law (877-460-1187) today for a FREE consultation and the best legal representation.