It can be a challenge for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide adequate care and ensure the safety of all residents without infringing upon the rights of any individual. It often falls to legislators to expressly spell out what rights nursing home residents have and what type of treatment they should not be subjected to. Delineating the rights of nursing home residents is an ongoing process. Some of these rights have been in place in nursing homes for decades, while others have only been established within the last three or four years.
Newly Established Rights
From November 2016 until 2019, new nursing home regulations have been phased in, granting residents greater protections and freedoms. For example, in the past, nursing home staff could dictate residents’ activities by imposing visitation hours for non-family members and only serving meals and snacks at certain scheduled times. Now, however, residents may request meals and snacks whenever they want them, and staff members must comply. Residents can also have visitors at all hours of the day or night, even if they are not family. However, visitors cannot disturb fellow residents.
New laws require more training in elder abuse protection for staff members. Nursing homes now bear a greater responsibility for preventing loss or theft of residents’ belongings. In the past, nursing home contracts typically included a mandatory binding arbitration clause, but as of 2016, residents finally have the right to sue nursing homes. These are just a few examples of rights granted to nursing home residents within the past few years.
Previously Established Rights
The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987 and established a number of basic rights for residents of nursing homes. The law has required facilities to post these rights where they can be seen. The bill established a number of residents’ rights, but here are a few of the most basic and widely applicable:
- Right to manage money
- Right to medical care
- Right to be informed of services and fees
- Right to privacy
- Right to be treated with respect and dignity
All of these rights are important. Residents and family members who believe that these rights have been violated have the right to file complaints. The appropriate regulatory body should be identified on the signs in the facility along with up-to-date contact information.
Nursing home residents have rights, as do their designated representatives, if applicable. To find out more information, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to arrange a consultation with an attorney.