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Residents Rights in Long-Term Care

October is Nursing Home Resident’s Rights Month

COVID has made many Americans stop and consider residents in long term care facilities and what their experience is like. Residents retain all of the same rights as individuals residing in the community.

In 1987 Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act that requires nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid to comply with certain minimum quality of care rules. The Nursing Home Reform Act specifically states that nursing homes “must 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.”

Each resident must have an initial comprehensive and accurate assessment.  From this assessment a written care plan is developed. Future assessments are made at a regular interval-usually every 3 months. If the resident has had a significant change within the

3-month period the care plan is changed as needed.

 

Nursing homes are required to prevent the deterioration of a resident’s ability to perform the activities of daily life such as bathing, dressing, walking, and eating. If a resident is not able to do the activities of daily life the nursing home is required to assist the person.

Residents must have adequate supervision, care and assistive devices to prevent them from getting hurt. This includes:

proper and effective medication management and administration.

assistive devices for seeing and hearing.

treatment and services to maintain, or improve, bladder function.

preventing pressure ulcers (aka bed sores).

providing food and drinks to maintain healthy nutritional and hydration status.

Nursing homes are required to have sufficient nursing home staff to provide the necessary care for the residents. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires nursing homes to report payroll staffing data directly. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not set a minimum staff to resident ratio.

Residents of nursing homes enjoy all of the same rights as non-residents.

Residents Rights include-

The right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Every resident is to be offered treatment without discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion, national origin, handicap or source of payment.

Every resident shall be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and misappropriation of property. This includes being free of physical and chemical restraints.

 

Residents have the right to be fully informed (in a language they understand) and make their own decisions.

Residents also have the right to participate in their care plan and to have their personal and cultural preferences respected during their care.

Residents have the right to choose their own physician, and choose how, and with whom, they spend their time. This includes organizing and participating in Resident or Family Councils. Currently, the right to gather in groups is waived due to COVID  and the need to ensure all residents remain safe by maintaining social distance.

The right to privacy in their personal, financial and medical affairs.

Residents have the right to manage their own finances. If a resident chooses, they can authorize the facility to hold their personal funds over $100 in a separate interest-bearing account and receive quarterly financial statements from the facility. Note that the $1200 COVID stimulus monies are personal funds. Nursing homes cannot withhold the COVID stimulus funds from residents.

Residents have a right to vote.

The right to appeal discharges or transfers.

Residents have a right to receive a 30-day written notice when being discharged or transferred to another facility. The notice must include why they are being discharged or transferred, the contact information for the long-term care ombudsman and information on how to appeal the discharge. Residents have the right to remain in a nursing home while appealing a transfer or discharge.

During COVID, nursing homes have the ability to transfer residents without a 30-day notice to another facility to keep COVID positive and COVID negative individuals separate.

Our world has forever been changed by COVID. Whether in a nursing home or on Main Street USA, we retain our rights but we are adjusting our expectations. We are adjusting in order to live. Please wear a mask, wash your hands and stay at least 6 feet apart.

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