THE GOOD THE BAD, THE UGLY
Nursing homes, like most health care providers run the gamut in the quality of care provided to their patients. Unfortunately, it is not as easy for a nursing home patient to switch facilities as it is for a patient who doesn't like something about their internist or orthopedist.
Bed sores, falls, malnutrition, misdiagnosis and a many other serious events can befall a nursing home patient.
Nursing home patients have legal rights and nursing homes can be held to set established standards.
Each person admitted to a nursing home in the United States has resident rights guaranteed by the 1987 Nursing Horne Reform Law. A summary of their rights appear on the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
Residents Rights are guaranteed by the federal 1987 Nursing Horne Reform Law. The law requires nursing homes to "promote and protect the rights of each resident" and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination. Nursing homes must meet federal resident's rights requirements if they participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Some states have residents' rights in state law or regulation for nursing homes, licensed assisted living, adult care homes, and other board and care facilities. A person living in a long-term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community.
What are Residents' Rights?
Residents' Rights Guarantee Quality of Life
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law requires each nursing home to care for its residents in a manner that promotes and enhances the quality of life of each resident, ensuring dignity, choice and self determination. All nursing homes are required "to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care that is initially prepared, with participation, to the extent practicable, of the resident, the resident's family, or legal representative." This means a resident should not decline in health or well-being as a result of the way a nursing facility provides care.
The Right to Be Fully Informed of
Right to Complain
Right to Participate in One's Own Care
Right to Privacy and Confidentiality
Rights During Transfers and Discharges
Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom
Right to Visits
Right to Make Independent Choices
These rights are complex and extensive. Many nursing home residents have designated a care manager or representative to oversee their care. New Jersey also has an ombudsman office that people can communicate their concerns regarding nursing home care. The State of New Jersey also conducts unannounced inspections and these results are available to the public.
If patients or their concerned loved ones cannot get the relief they are seeking from the nursing home an attorney experienced in nursing home law should be consulted. This can usually be done with a free initial consultation.