Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Nursing homes have come a long way since their inception in the 1940’s. Originally these facilities were unregulated and known for providing horrible living conditions. After a few rounds of legislative intervention in the sixties, seventies and eighties, nursing homes now often provide quality care for the elderly.

This level of care is guided by federal regulations prohibiting mistreatment, neglect and abuse of nursing home residents. Residents are ensured certain rights by the government, including:

  • Ability to see family members and physicians
  • Ability to keep and use personal possessions if not a threat to safety
  • Confidentiality of clinical and personal records
  • Freedom from mental and physical abuse

According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these rights generally include the basic rights of respect, disclosure of costs of services and control over personal finances. Every nursing home facility is legally required to meet these obligations.

Tips to Ensure Quality Care

Good facilities not only meet these requirements, but provide additional activities and opportunities for their residents. There are many tools available to aid in the search for the right facility.

Medicare offers a Nursing Home Compare tool that provides detailed information on facilities throughout the United States. It is best to use this tool along with the federal government’s five star ranking system, discussions with the local long-term care ombudsman and a review of ownership. According to Consumer Reports, facilities that are owned by nonprofit organizations generally provide better care than for-profit chains.

The most important factor in choosing a good facility is a personal visit. Taking the time to tour the facility and chat with the staff will provide a good idea of the type of environment fostered in the facility.

Unfortunately, even a good facility can deteriorate. Change in management or being purchased by a large chain can result in a different quality of care. If abuse of these rights is suspected, it is important to inform the Licensing and Certification District Office or Ombudsman Program in the facility’s county. If physical or sexual abuse is suspected, it may also be wise to contact the police department.

Remedies are available for victims of nursing home abuse. If you or a loved one is a victim, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your options.

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