Nursing Home Reform

Since its inception, Illinois Citizens for Better Care has been led efforts to improve the quality of nursing home care in Illinois.  At the beginning, that meant writing and helping to get passed, the 1979 Illinois Nursing Home Reform Act, a remarkable achievement for its time.  


During the next 30 years, ICBC pushed for better enforcement of existing law.  We were successful in getting some improvements to the original law (probably most notably, restrictions on using restraints and psychotropic drugs on nursing home residents,) and were able to defeat numerous efforts by the nursing home industry to weaken protections for residents.  We got Chicago to require air-conditioning in all its nursing homes, making life more bearable for the thousands of people with a serious mental illness living in building that were ovens in summer.


But the realities of Illinois politics and government -- money and clout -- meant that we were always outsiders.  Our dealings with the Department of Public Health were at best strained, and often downright hostile.  By 2000, we were watching the number of Public Health nursing home surveyors drop each year to new lows, with enforcement efforts completely inadequate to the task.  Many nursing homes were routinely violating the law because they knew their chances of getting caught were small, and their chances of having to pay a large fine or being shut down even smaller.


In 2010, ICBC was one of the leaders of nursing home reform efforts that defeated the supposedly overwhelming clout of the nursing home industry.  We tell you here about how that victory occurred, and the current status of nursing home reform in Illinois.