Nursing Home Residents Trust Accounts to Receive Federal Review

As you may recall, several months ago we ran a blog post about theft of nursing home resident trust accounts, and provided tips for managing resident trust accounts and the employees who handle these accounts. Recently, USA Today ran an article on the mismanagement of these trust accounts which attracted the attention of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which has now requested a federal review to determine whether sufficient oversight is in place at nursing homes to make sure residents’ money is not unnecessarily put at risk.

Residents in nursing homes have trust accounts that function like bank accounts and can be used for personal purchases. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for these funds to be mismanaged, either by facilities that are unaware of the legal requirements for maintaining such accounts, or from employees that take monies from these accounts. According to the USA Today article, over 1500 recent cases were found where these accounts were mishandled. Senator Bill Nelson, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, has asked the Inspector Director at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to review the guidelines currently in place for these accounts. In a show of bipartisan support, Senator Chuck Grassley likewise echoed Senator Nelson’s concerns: “I hope the Inspector General will… identify solutions to better protect nursing home residents… The solutions might be a combination of state, federal and industry initiatives. In the meantime, the industry should do everything possible to protect the residents who have entrusted the nursing homes with their savings.”

Facilities should immediately make sure that they are following federal and state guidelines for trust accounts. Generally, these accounts must be maintained separately for each resident and earn interest. Residents are entitled to statements regarding the funds in their accounts. Facilities should check into whether they have insurance that would cover losses from theft or mismanagement. Most importantly, facilities should have background checks in place for staff that is responsible for handling these accounts, as well as oversight protocols which provide for regular auditing by someone outside of the facility to ensure the integrity of these accounts.


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