Elderly citizens living in nursing homes can be some of the most vulnerable people in our society. In most cases, these individuals have significant physical limitations that require them to be extremely dependent upon other people. Elder lawyers in Orange County often watch as clients transition from living on their own to becoming a resident in an elder care facility of some sort.
Because of the vulnerability of those in nursing homes, Congress felt it was reasonable to step forward and create a Nursing Home Reform Law in 1987. To this day, elder attorneys from Orange County to the other side of the country work with families to enforce these reforms and provide our clients with the dignity and care that the deserve.
Provisions of the Nursing Home Reform Law
These reforms are celebrated and supported by elder lawyers and those who have a stake in the care of elderly loved ones. Some of the rights included in the law include:
- Freedom from unnecessary physical or chemical restraints. If a nursing home is using physical restraints or sedatives when it is not medically indicated to do so, they are infringing upon the patient’s rights.
- Residents should be informed about their care providers, know how to contact them, and be able to participate in their own care planning meetings. If these rights are being ignored, the patient or family may choose to gain the assistance of an elder attorney with experience in this area.
- The resident, his or her physician, and a legal representative/interested family member must be informed if the patient’s health deteriorates or there is to be a change in the treatment plan.
- The resident is allowed access to his or her records within a day and must be provided low-cost copies when requested.
- There is a right to privacy, including for private visits and communication, as well as in personal care needs.
- They cannot be moved (to a different room, facility, or back home) without the facility showing, in advance, why the move is beneficial or necessary for the resident or other residents.
- Residents also have the right to share a room with their spouses, to belong to churches our social groups, manage their own finances, and conduct meetings without staff present.
- Staff members are required to treat residents professionally, and are charged with helping to protect residents’ personal belongings.
- All of these rights and others must be provided, in writing, to the resident. This includes information on state laws regarding powers of attorney and other directives that may need to be drawn up with the guidance of an estate planning lawyer.
As mentioned in the list above, all of these rights, plus many other applicable laws, will be made available to the resident and/or his family. An estate and elder care lawyer can go over them with you if necessary and is available if you feel that you or your loved one’s rights are being ignored.