In 2007, Senator Royce West introduced SB131, Nursing Home Family Council Bill, to the Texas Legislature.  During the 2007 Texas Legislative Session, the bill was passed and it became law effective September 1, 2008.

Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents supported this bill and has seen an increase in family councils in long-term care facilities.

There is strength in numbers with families working together.  This unity has positive benefits for residents.  The family council is a vehicle for the positive changes that are needed to provide adequate and beneficial care to a facility’s residents.

Family councils are independently organized groups consisting of family members, legal guardians and friends of residents in long-term care facilities.  They regularly meet to improve conditions for residents, provide support to other family members, and increase awareness of regulations governing nursing homes.

The specific activities of family councils vary from facility to facility.  Many family councils sponsor educational programs, plan parties for the residents, visit residents that have no family members, visit other council members’ residents, award a staff member for outstanding care to residents with a gift or check, and provide other positive benefits for the residents.

Family councils study regulations governing nursing homes and address unacceptable care when it is observed.  The staff members are required to correct any violations.

Each family council’s grievance committee records the concerns and issues voice by the council at each meeting and then provides this list to the facility administrator.  The administrator must reply within five days and make a reasonable effort to resolve any valid issues.

Nursing homes are required to work more closely with family councils including providing a representative of the family council with a copy of the final statement of violations identified in the annual survey.  In addition, the nursing facility is required to consider the views and recommendations of the family council and make reasonable efforts to resolve the council’s grievances.

Texas is the sixth state in the nation to pass a Nursing Home Family Council Law.

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