Out of all the places in the world, nursing homes should be one of the places where you can feel secure. You especially want the peace of mind that your loved ones (such as your parents) will be safe in any sort of eldercare facility. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse can and does happen. In the unfortunate circumstance that you or a loved one become victimized, you will want to make sure you know all the legal rights and protections afforded to nursing home residents.
Both federal and state law affords certain rights and protections to all nursing home residents in order to ensure that they receive proper and adequate care and other services. One of the first steps to take in empowering yourself or your loved ones is to understand that you have the right to be informed, make your own decisions, and have your personal information kept private.
It is important to know that the nursing home must tell you about these rights. This is not just esoteric knowledge that you are meant to find out on your own. The facility should be able to provide an explanation of all these rights and protections in simple, understandable language either before or at the time of admittance. You should also acknowledge in writing that you have received such information.
In any case of injustice, understanding your rights is the first step to empowerment. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents and their loved ones are not fully aware of the protections afforded to them. This can leave them totally at a loss if they are dealing with cases of nursing home abuse or neglect. In this blog post, we will provide a brief overview of these rights and protections.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, all nursing home residents “have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, as well as make your own schedule and participate in the activities you choose.” In other words, a nursing home is legally obligated to recognize your autonomy. You get to decide when you go to sleep, when you wake up, and when you take your meals.
Being recognized as a complete and competent individual means being treated with care. In even more obvious terms, this means that there should be no abuse and/or neglect in the nursing home. Abuse can take on many different forms: verbal, sexual, physical, and even mental. You must be able to move and complain freely, without fear of retaliation. If you are unsure about whether or not you have been abused, you can turn to your local long-term care ombudsman or state survey agency. You may even want to turn to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Of course, another huge part of respect is being free of discrimination. While nursing homes do not have to accept all applicants, they must comply with any applicable civil rights laws. This means they cannot discriminate based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion. Doing so is a serious infraction of the law and could result in severe penalties.
Nursing homes should also enrich residents’ lives. This means offering an adequate activities program. These activities should provide the residents with meaningful time and social interaction with other residents of the facility. Residents have the right to participate or not participate in these programs as they see fit.
Many residents of nursing homes have long-term conditions that require long-term treatment. This is part of what makes choosing the right nursing home for your loved ones so important. As a resident, you have the right to receive both proper and adequate medical care. This entails being fully informed about your total health status, being involved in choosing your doctor, participating in decisions that affect your care, create any advance directives, and having the option to refuse to participate in any experimental treatments.
Your nursing home should also notify your doctor and any relevant legal representatives or interested family members if you suffer any injuries in an accident and need to see a doctor. They are also obligated to notify the above parties if your physical, mental, or psychosocial status start to get worse, if you have a life-threatening condition, if you have any medical complications, if any significant changes need to be made to your treatment, or if the nursing home decides to transfer or discharge you.
You should rest easy knowing that your loved ones are not being financially taken advantage of in their eldercare facility. Residents have the legal right to be told in writing about any and all nursing home services and fees before moving into the home. This applies to services and fees that are charged and not charged to you.
All residents also have the right to manage their own money. They may also choose to have someone they trust do this for them. This means that the nursing home must grant them full access to any bank accounts, cash, and other financial records in the resident’s name. The nursing home cannot combine resident funds with nursing home funds, and they must protect resident funds from any loss with acceptable protection (e.g., surety bonds). In the case that a resident with a fund passes away, the nursing home must then return the funds with a final accounting to whomever is tasked with handling the resident’s estate within 30 days. Nursing homes also cannot have residents deposit money with them or hold or account for any resident’s money without a written statement of intent from the resident.
Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are operated as well as they should be. At Injury Victim Law, we may be able to help with any medical malpractice or nursing home abuse you have suffered. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide nursing home abuse attorneys. Let us fight for you.