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2024 Guide to Illinois Nursing Homes

Attorneys working on a nursing home abuse lawsuit
Steven M Levin

Content Reviewed by:
Steven M Levin

Content Reviewed by: Steven M Levin

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Since 1976, Steve Levin has been dedicated to helping people injured by others’ negligence. He is one of the first attorneys in the U.S. to prosecute nursing homes for abuse and negligence. He’s also helped write new legislation that governs the operation of nursing homes, including the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. Moreover, Levin & Perconti has obtained the top three jury verdicts in nursing home negligence cases in Illinois.

Your choice of a nursing home for yourself or an aging family member may be the most important factor in determining the safety and quality of life you or your loved one experiences for life. Nursing home abuse and neglect are rampant in Illinois, and finding quality care during your golden years is becoming increasingly difficult as the senior population grows.

In 2030, the last of the baby boomer population will reach 65. According to the 2022 to 2024 State Plan on Aging, 25 percent of Illinois’ population will soon be over 65. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning reports that more than a million Chicago-area residents will reach 65 or older by 2050, reflecting an 80 percent increase in older adults. Our guide to choosing a nursing home will help you identify the best facility for yourself or your loved one.

Understanding Illinois Nursing Homes

Older adults can receive care through the following types of long-term care facilities in Illinois:

  • Skilled nursing facilities – These facilities provide nursing care and therapy requiring licensed health care providers, usually on a short-term basis.
  • Intermediate care facilities – These facilities provide nursing supervision and assistance to residents who need help with personal tasks such as eating, dressing, and walking.
  • Assisted living facilities – These facilities provide care for residents who do not need nursing care but require assistance with some activities, such as meal preparation and dressing.
  • Sheltered care facilities – These operate similarly to assisted living facilities, providing personal care services, supervision, and activities for elderly or disabled residents.
  • Illinois veterans’ homes – These are skilled nursing homes operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Supportive living facilities – Such facilities offer affordable alternatives to nursing homes and assisted living facilities for low-income elderly and disabled Illinois residents.
  • Independent living facilities – These are retirement communities for healthy seniors who do not need ongoing medical care. They usually have 24-hour staff on site.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home in Illinois

Knowing how to find a good nursing home can give you peace of mind about where your loved one will live and receive care in the coming years.

How Do You Determine the Quality of a Nursing Home?

An in-person visit is often the only way to determine whether a nursing home meets quality standards. Fortunately, you can narrow your search considerably by viewing nursing home ratings online from official sources.

The criteria below will guide you on what to look for:

  • A good reputation for quality care, safety, and resident happiness
  • A clean facility free of unpleasant odors
  • Liberal visiting hours, preferably 24 hours
  • Family participation is encouraged during care, meals, and events
  • Specific services you or your loved one needs, such as memory care
  • An attractive home-like environment with recreational and social activities
  • Sufficient staff for the number of residents and low staff turnover
  • Hands-on involvement by the head of nursing and other management staff

Of all the quality criteria, staffing is the most important. Understaffing in nursing homes is the main driver of most nursing home abuse and neglect. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association found a statistically significant increase in resident deaths in understaffed nursing homes.

When you are ready to make in-person visits, visit at different times, including when the nursing homes are not expecting you. Talk to residents, family members, nurses, and management staff.

Nursing Home Costs and Insurance Coverage

Short-term skilled nursing facilities that provide inpatient post-acute care and rehabilitation services may accept Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance.

Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and private insurance cover long-term care, but Medicare only covers short-term care. Not every facility that is eligible to accept Medicare or Medicaid does. Thus, it’s important to ask about payment options. Assisted living facilities generally require the full cost to be paid out-of-pocket.

The Department of Veterans Affairs covers the cost of long-term and short-term care for veterans in VA Community Living Centers and nursing homes across the state that contract with the VA. The VA covers some necessary services in assisted living facilities but not room and board.

Nursing Home Costs and Insurance Coverage

The nursing home’s location can make a difference between whether friends and family visit. Frequent monitoring from loved ones creates added protection from abuse. Staff may be less likely to abuse or neglect residents when they know attentive family members are watching. It also allows family members to detect signs of abuse or neglect should they occur.

If possible, choose a nursing home close to your preferred hospital. This can ensure your loved one receives quality emergency care as needed.

Nursing Home Resources

Medicare’s nursing home directory provides detailed information about staffing levels, overall quality, inspection results, and history of abuse. The Illinois Department of Health provides quarterly and annual reports that allow you to view lists of nursing homes that have received citations.

The following resources provide nursing home quality and rating information:

Spotlight on Illinois Nursing Home Communities

The nursing homes listed below are the best and worst in Illinois based on their ratings in the Medicare nursing home directory, news organizations, residents, and family members.

Best Nursing Homes in Illinois

The nursing homes below have consistently received five-star ratings from Medicare, U.S. News & World Report, and Family members of residents. However, abuse and neglect can occur at even the highest-rated nursing homes. Always visit in person before selecting a nursing home, and remain vigilant for signs of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse and financial exploitation after your loved one enters a nursing home.

Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka

Apostolic Christian Home of Eureka is a long-term care facility that provides multiple levels of care, including an independent living facility, home care, and a long-term care facility with a memory care unit. Nursing home residents and family members appreciate the beautiful home-like setting, compassionate staff, good food, and family-like environment. Many staff members have worked at the facility for ten or more years.

Hammond-Henry District Hospital: Long-Term Care Living Center

The Long-Term Care Living Center at Hammond-Henry District Hospital in Geneseo provides a home-like environment with caring staff. The facility has 20 semi-private beds and 18 private beds, all of which are Medicare-certified. Residents have access to the following amenities:

  • On-site religious services
  • A kitchen where residents can prepare their own meals with staff assistance
  • A beauty and barber shop
  • 24-hour visitation
  • Computers with internet access computer lessons
  • A resident council
  • Holiday events
  • Social and recreational activities, including outings
  • A town square
  • A quilting club
  • A weaving group
  • A bistro and puzzle area

Hammond-Henry’s “Quality of Life Programming” aims to improve resident independence and functioning. It includes cognitive functioning therapies, bladder and bowel training, and other therapies to improve residents’ abilities to perform activities of daily living with limited or no assistance.

Highland Oaks

Highland Oaks in Elgin is a nonprofit long-term skilled nursing facility that strives to offer residents a home-like environment. Family members are welcome to join their loved ones for any meal. Amenities include outdoor garden areas, a salon, therapy rooms, a beautiful activity room, a town square, a bistro and puzzle area, a bird aviary, and pianos. It is located in a beautiful setting with a pond and oak trees.

Short-Term Skilled Nursing Facilities

The highest-rated skilled nursing facilities include the following:

  • Alden Estates of Skokie is a luxury short-term rehabilitation facility for those who need orthopedic, cardiac, or neurological rehabilitation or post-acute care.
  • Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park is a skilled nursing unit and intensive rehab. The facility encourages patient and family involvement and provides family members with space for overnight visits.

A List of the Worst Nursing Homes in Illinois

The facilities below earned Medicare’s lowest ratings available for health inspections, quality measures, and staffing ratios from March 1, 2023, through February 29, 2024:

Rights and Advocacy in Illinois Nursing Homes

The Illinois Department of Health enforces federal and state regulations to ensure nursing home residents receive quality care in a safe, home-like environment. These regulations promote tenant safety and dignity by requiring nursing homes to provide sufficient numbers of qualified staff, address each resident’s individual needs, and maintain transparency. Nursing homes that violate federal or state regulations face fines, license revocation, or loss of Medicare or Medicaid certification.

Comprehensive Resident Care Plan

Nursing homes must perform a comprehensive assessment upon admission and develop a care plan for every resident. The assessment must set objective, measurable goals to improve or maintain a resident’s physical, mental, and psychosocial functioning and help the resident attain the highest level of physical independence possible. Residents and guardians have a right to participate in care planning.

Facilities must have a written plan to control the risk of injury to residents and nursing staff who must lift, transfer, or move residents.

Staffing Regulations

The Illinois Department of Health has set the following minimum staffing requirements for Illinois nursing homes:

  • 3.8 hours of nursing and personal care services per day per resident in need of skilled nursing care
  • 2.5 hours of nursing and personal care services per day per resident in need of intermediate care
  • At least 25 percent of care provided by licensed nurses
  • At least 10 percent of care provided by registered nurses

Eligibility for Employment as a CNA

Nursing assistants, such as CNAs, must initiate a training course approved by the Illinois Department of Health within 45 days of employment and complete it within 120 days. Training must include a 12-hour dementia care course. CNAs must be 16 or older and have at least an eighth-grade education. The Department of Health maintains a registry of individuals who are eligible to work for health care employers. Anyone with a history of the following is ineligible for employment in a nursing home:

  • Abuse or neglect of a resident
  • A felony
  • A misdemeanor that stems from any form of dishonesty
  • Any crime related to the duties of a health care employee.

Posting of Public Information

Every nursing home must post the following items in a conspicuous public location:

  • A copy of its license
  • Complaint procedures with contact information for the Department of Health representative authorized to accept complaints
  • A list of materials available for public inspection
  • A written notice saying, “The Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a free resident advocacy service available to the public.”

Inspections and Enforcement

The Illinois Department of Health conducts periodic nursing home inspections, also known as surveys, once every six to 15 months and when complaints are received. The schedule changes annually, so nursing homes cannot anticipate when the inspection may occur. The department also conducts surveys in response to complaints.

After the surveys are completed, the department sends a copy of the inspection report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicare posts the results on for public viewing. Nursing homes with deficiencies face fines, loss of certification for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, or revocation of their licenses.

Speak Up Against Nursing Home Wrongdoers

If you or your loved one has experienced abuse or neglect in an Illinois nursing home, you may be eligible for significant compensation. Our award-winning nursing home abuse lawyers have won over $2 billion in compensation for injured clients, including many record-setting nursing home settlements and verdicts that have made headlines. Below are a few examples of our successful case results:

  • $4.1 million record verdict for an 85-year-old nursing home resident whose medications were mismanaged
  • $2.9 million record verdict for the family of a 57-year-old who suffocated to death from negligent tracheostomy tube care at a nursing home in Homewood
  • $2.8 million record bedsore settlement for a 59-year-old nursing home resident in Hillside who developed painful bedsores that took four years to heal
  • $2.7 million jury verdict for the estate of a 67-year-old man who died from complications related to a fall at a Chicago nursing home
  • $2.3 million settlement for the family of an 88-year-old assisted living facility resident who died from infected bed sore

Our knowledge of federal and state nursing home laws is unmatched. Our founder, Steven Levin, was one of the first lawyers in the nation to stand up for abused and neglected nursing home residents, and we have developed the most aggressive and effective approach to handling every case.

Contact us today through our online contact form or by calling (312) 332-2872 to schedule a free case review.

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