It has been assumed that the best policy for promoting quality of life in nursing homes is direct regulation. In this paper it is argued that if our experience in regulating quality of care is any indication, we may not possess the political will to successfully regulate quality of life. Moreover, from a legal perspective, the less concrete nature of the concept of quality of life may make it more difficult to regulate than quality of care. Finally, although regulation would probably be necessary if potential nursing home residents (and their agents) lacked the information or rationality to make choices that promoted their interests, this has never been shown to be the case empirically. Therefore, we may not be forced to choose regulation to achieve an adequate quality of life. Alternative–and perhaps better–policies may be available.

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