NURSING HOME ABUSE
A family already has to endure watching grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles age. A family may have a loved one who has suffered a disability as the result of an accident or injury. As our loved ones grow older or become disabled, we look to doctors, medicine, diets and other means in an effort to keep our loved ones happy and healthy. We also utilize these resources in an effort to allow our loved one to maintain their independence. When health declines or complications arise, families may be forced to look to nursing homes or long-term care facilities to meet their loved one’s needs.
Many facilities provide excellent care. Some facilities, however, fall far short and fail to provide even adequate care. Poor care may be the result of underpaid, overworked or poorly trained staff. Care may be deficient due to a nursing home cutting corners and not performing adequate background checks on its employees. Unfortunately, profit margins all too often override an individual’s right to dignity and proper care.
Neglected, abused, and threatened nursing home residents may suffer physically and emotionally. Neglect and abuse results in a litany of injuries, including painful bedsores, broken bones, cuts, bruises, scars, burns, abrasions or even death. Residents may be reluctant to reports abuse and neglect. Residents may fear reprisal or staff retaliation if they complain about their care or they advise loved ones of abuse and neglect. Residents may be reluctant to tell the truth due to humiliation or intimidation.
Rampant nursing home abuse and neglect garnered political attention in the 1980s. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 in an effort to reform nursing home practices and procedures and to set standards for the care rendered to residents. These laws were codified as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA 1987). OBRA mandates that nursing homes promote and protect the rights of its residents. OBRA further places a strong emphasis on individual dignity. Nursing Homes must comply with OBRA mandates in order to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. The Nursing Home Resident’s Rights are as follows:
(1) Residents have the right to be fully informed of services and their charges; the rules and regulations of the nursing home; contact information for the State ombudsman, State licensure office, and other advocacy groups; and state survey reports of the nursing home along with the home’s plans for corrections.
(2) Residents have the right to be communicated to daily in their language and provided assistance for sensory impairments.
(3) Residents have the right to participate in their own care, which includes both receiving adequate and appropriate care and also the right to refuse that care.
(4) They have the right to be involved in the planning of their care, should be informed of any changes in treatment or condition, and have the right to review their medical records.
(5) Residents have the right to make independent choices.
(6) This includes making independent decisions on clothing and spending free time, choosing their own activities inside and outside the nursing home, participating in a resident council, and selecting their own physician.
(7) The nursing home must make reasonable accommodations of a resident’s needs and preferences.
(8) Residents have the right to privacy and confidentiality, including private and unrestricted communication with persons of their choice, private treatment and care of personal needs, and confidentiality regarding medical, personal, and financial affairs.
(9) Residents have the right to dignity, respect, and freedom. Residents have the right to be treated with consideration, respect and dignity, to be free from abuse, both mental and physical, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints. Residents have the right to self-determination.
(10) Residents have the right to security of possessions. This includes managing their own financial affairs and not being charged for services covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Residents have the right to file a complaint if the nursing home is managing their financial affairs in an abusive, neglectful, or inappropriate way.
(11) Residents have rights during transfers and discharges, including the right to a 30-day notice and a safe transfer or discharge with sufficient preparation by the nursing home. Residents also have a right to remain in the nursing facility unless the transfer or discharge is deemed necessary to meet the resident’s welfare, required to protect other residents and staff, or a facility charge has not been provided after reasonable notice.
Residents have the right to complain without fear of reprisal and the right to prompt efforts by the nursing home to resolve grievances.
(12) A resident has the right to visits. A resident has the right to visits from their personal physician, representatives from the health department and ombudsman programs, and their relatives. Residents also have the right to reasonable visits by organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services.