Laws on the federal and state levels provide special safeguards for the rights of those living in nursing homes. The Older Americans Act and the Federal Nursing Home Reform Law are two federal statutes that are pertinent to this discussion. There is a wide variety of nursing home legislation around the US, with some states, like Kentucky, clearly outlining “rights of residents, duties of facilities,” and others, like Tennessee, recently enacting harsh new prohibitions on the rights of nursing home patients and their loved ones to sue nursing homes for substandard care.
Any situation where an old person is at risk of being abused or neglected, such as in a nursing home or another setting, should be reported to the proper authorities. Nursing home abuse and neglect allegations can be investigated by state authorities, who can then impose sanctions on facilities that fail to protect residents’ rights.
It should be noted, however, that residents of nursing homes who have been abused or neglected, or their loved ones on their behalf, can also take action through civil law.
Existing Regulations to Ensure Residents’ Safety in Nursing Facilities
Noncriminal claims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable persons in nursing homes and other long-term care institutions are examined by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The federal Older Americans Act, which was first passed in 1965 and was updated in 1987 to include the Nursing Home Reform Amendments, is the statute that regulates these programs.
When residents or concerned citizens of a state have questions or concerns about a nursing home, they can reach out to a trained ombudsman at the state’s office for assistance. These departments also receive official complaints, which they investigate and forward to the appropriate authorities for possible criminal or civil action. If a nursing home resident is in danger, authorities in the area can be contacted to intervene and remove the resident from harm’s way.
When relatives or government officials inquire about possible nursing home abuse, they may be met with lame explanations or incorrect details. In some cases, the response time from government offices that are responsible for a vast geographical area or the entire state may be unacceptable.
To protect a loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect, you may need the advice of an expert attorney.
It is against the law for nursing home residents to experience a deterioration in their health or quality of life as a result of the treatment they get. Each nursing home resident must have a documented plan of care created for them with as much input from the resident, the person’s family, or the resident’s legal representative as is reasonably possible.
The Nursing Home Reform Amendments of 1987 guarantee residents certain protections, such as the following:
- The right to know all of the laws and regulations of the nursing home and the prices associated with certain services. The facility must give advance notice to residents if they intend to switch their rooms or housemates.
- Individual rights to privacy, autonomy, and respect. Residents of nursing homes should be treated with dignity and respect, and they should never be subjected to mental or physical abuse, corporal punishment, solitary confinement, or chemical restrictions. A resident is still entitled to their freedom of choice and the safety of their personal property.
- The freedom to voice concerns without fear of retaliation and the reassurance that such concerns will be addressed promptly. Residents have the right to file a complaint with the state’s long-term care ombudsman or nursing home licensing office without interference.
- The ability to make decisions about one’s own health care. They have the right to refuse any treatment or medicine, including chemical and physical restraints, and must be given the option to receive medical care if they request it.
- Protecting one’s privacy and the secrecy of one’s personal, medical, and financial information and communications with others.
- A patient has the legal right to remain in the nursing home until a transfer or discharge is warranted for reasons of health, safety, or finances. A resident also has the right to appeal a transfer or discharge decision within 30 days of receiving a written notification outlining the reasons for the transfer or discharge and the date it will take effect.
- The option to receive or deny visits from loved ones, medical professionals, and service providers.
- The autonomy to decide on one’s own wardrobe, pastimes, involvement in community events, medical care provider, and other personal and financial matters. It is the community’s responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for its residents so they can live their lives as they see fit. Residents are encouraged to form and join a Residents’ Council.
Nursing home residents in Kentucky need to be aware of their legal rights. These rights include the right to be free from abuse and neglect, the right to receive quality care, and the right to have their privacy respected. Suppose residents or their families suspect that any of these rights are being violated. In that case, they should immediately contact the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General or the Kentucky Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
If you are looking for an experienced attorney for nursing home abuse in Lexington, KY, look no further than our expertise here at Circeo Law Firm. Our award-winning Kentucky injury attorneys will aggressively advocate for justice if you or a loved one were injured due to someone else’s negligence. Call us today for a free consultation, and let us discuss your nursing home abuse concerns.