October is an important month for Nursing Home Residents….it is Resident Rights Month. From personal
experience, I can confidently say that most residents are unaware it is residents rights month. More importantly, most nursing homes don’t do anything to inform the residents in their buildings that it is
a month celebrating their rights.
What are resident’s rights? All nursing home residents have certain rights and protections under Federal and state law the purpose of which is to ensure they the necessary and needed care and services. The law requires that nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident”, stressing individual dignity and self-determination. In addition, there are many states that also include residents’ rights in their state laws or regulations.
What are my rights in a nursing home?
As a nursing home resident, you have certain rights and protections under Federal and state law that help ensure you get the care and services you need. You have the right to be informed, make your own decisions, and have your personal information kept private.
The nursing home must tell you about these rights and explain them in writing in a language you understand. They must also explain in writing how you should act and what you’re responsible for while you’re in the nursing home. This must be done before or at the time you’re admitted, as well as during your stay. You must acknowledge in writing that you got this information.
Here is a summary of some of the resident rights:
· Being treated with consideration, respect, and dignity, and recognizing each resident’s individuality – this would include having the right to make your own schedule and participate in activities of your choosing. You also have the right to decide when to go to bed, rise in the morning and when to eat your meals.
· Freedom from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and misappropriation of property - Be Free from Abuse and Neglect: You have the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse. Nursing homes can’t keep you apart from everyone else against your will. authorities.
· Freedom from discrimination - Nursing homes don’t have to accept all applicants, but they must comply with Civil Rights laws that say they can’t discriminate based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion. The Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights has more information. Visit http://www.hhs.gov/ocr.
· Freedom from physical or chemical restraints - Nursing homes can’t use any physical restraints (like side rails) or chemical restraints (like drugs) to discipline you for the staff’s own convenience.
· Privacy, Property and Security of possessions - To keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as they don’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
To have private visits; make and get private phone calls; have privacy in sending and getting mail and email; have the nursing home protect your property from theft; share a room with your spouse if you both live in the same nursing home (if you both agree to do so).The nursing home has to notify you before your room or your roommate is changed and should take your preferences into account.
· Make complaints - You have the right to make a complaint to the staff of the nursing home, or any other person, without fear of punishment. The nursing home must address the issue promptly.
· Access to medical records - To access all your records and reports, including clinical records (medical records and reports) promptly (on weekdays). Your legal guardian has the right to look at all your medical records and make important decisions on your behalf.
· Take part in your medical care and decision making – You have the right to participate in the decisions that affects your care and to take part in developing your care plan. This includes developing and implementing a person-centered plan of care that incorporates personal and cultural preferences.
By law, nursing homes must develop a care plan for each resident. Family members can also help with your care plan with your permission.
· Protection Against Unfair Transfer or Discharge: You can’t be sent to another nursing home, or made to leave the nursing home, unless under certain circumstances as set forth in writing in the nursing home admission agreement
· Participate in Activities: You have the right to participate in an activities program designed to meet your needs and the needs of the other residents.
· Right to file grievances: Present grievances without discrimination or retaliation, or the fear of it
Prompt efforts by the facility to resolve grievances, and provide a written decision upon request
To file a complaint with the long-term care ombudsman program or the state survey agency
· Get Proper Medical Care: You have the right to be fully informed about your total health status in a language you understand and to be fully informed about your medical condition, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.You also have the right to be involved in the choice of your doctor, to participate in the decisions that affects your care and take part in developing your care plan. By law, nursing homes must develop a care plan for each resident. You have the right to take part in this process. Family members can also help with your care plan with your permission.
· Form or Participate in Resident Groups: Most nursing homes have these groups, often known as Resident Council You have a right to form or participate in a resident group to discuss issues and concerns about the nursing home’s policies and operations. The home must give you meeting space and must listen to and act upon grievances and recommendations of the group.
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