One of the biggest fears related to life in nursing homes is losing freedom, privacy, choice, independence and control.
Enjoying a cup of coffee, meeting friends for lunch, staying up late to watch a movie are what people worry they will miss.
Living in a nursing home should not disrupt lifelong routines and limit personal choices. Residents need to understand and exercise their rights to make decisions about their daily lives.
You don’t lose any rights when you move into a nursing home.
Nursing home laws contain provisions to protect and promote residents’ rights.
These include the right to choose who you visit, or the right to go to bed when you want.
Nursing homes are required to provide services that maintain good health and emotional wellbeing written in an agreed care plan. Residents should not decline in health or well being as a result of the care provided says California Elder Law Attorney Steven C. Peck.
Other resident protections include the right to receive information and be informed; participate in planning all aspects of care; make decisions — such as participation in social and religious activities or what to wear; privacy in care and confidentiality regarding medical, personal or financial affairs; be treated with dignity and respect, free from abuse and neglect; be protected against transfer or discharge, unless for specific reasons; raise concerns or complaints without fear of punishment or retaliation.
When a person moves into a nursing home or any long-term care facility, he or she still has the right to make choices about their own life.
Knowing their rights is important, but exercising them is even more important. Often residents need family members and friends to assist them in exercising their rights.
Residents who are forgetful or confused can still express their needs and wants.
A person’s ability to communicate may be better on some days than others, but such fluctuations should not interfere with the basic right to express feelings and exercise choice to the greatest degree possible.
Residents who can’t choose and are unable to participate effectively in their own care need to have a substitute decision-maker or advocate.
A close family member is often the best person for this responsibility.
If a resident thinks their rights are being violated steps can be taken to address the concern.
First, attempt to resolve the problem by following the facility’s grievance procedure for complaints.
It is important to identify the right person to approach with the concern. Once the problem has been reported, obtain a date when the facility will respond, then meet to discuss solutions. Make sure to set a return time to discuss progress.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.