Your Rights and a Nursing Home
The manner in which a country takes care of its oldest citizens goes a long way in determining what kind of society we want to create for the next generation. And that’s one of the big issues when it comes to nursing home abuse, because statistics show that people are living longer, which means more of the elderly will end up in some type of nursing home facility.
Per the Nursing Home Abuse Center website, 20 percent of the population in the U.S. will be 65 years or older by 2050. And people who are 85 years of age or older are the fastest growing population in the U.S., and “this number is projected to increase to 19 million by the year 2050.”
As this group continues to grow older, they will need long-term facilities – such as nursing homes – and that will mean that many of these places will be filled to capacity due to a higher demand.
One of the major contributors to nursing home abuse is the fact that so many of these facilities are under-staffed and over-booked, which means that the number of residents per caregiver is too high.
High occupancy levels combined with stressed nursing home staff members is frequently the combination that leads to abuse and neglect, which is why state officials who regulate these facilities are being challenged to deal with the problem.
The Rights of Nursing Home Residents
One of the reasons that nursing home residents and their families don’t pursue claims against a facility is they may not understand their rights.
The U.S. government has established a common set of guidelines regarding the rights of nursing home residents and the protections they have under the law. In fact, nursing home officials are required to give residents and their families a copy of these rights, and they must display these rights where everyone can see them.
Per the official U.S. Government Site for Medicare, the rights include, but are not limited to:
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect
- The right to be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home.
- The right to manage your own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for you.
- The right to privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
- The right to be informed about your medical condition, medications, and to see your own doctor. You also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.
- The right to have a choice over your schedule (for example, when you get up and go to sleep), your activities and other preferences that are important to you.
- The right to an environment more like a home that maximizes your comfort and provides you with assistance to be as independent as possible.
- The right to be free of any physical restraint (like side rails) or chemical restraints (like drugs) to discipline you for the staff’s own convenience.
- The right keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as they don’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
Nursing homes must also adhere to Civil Rights laws that prohibit them from discriminating against anyone based on race, color, national origin, disability, age or religion.
Furthermore, nursing home residents have the right not to be verbally, sexually, physically or mentally abused, and they have the right to complain about any caregiver or staff member without the fear of reprisal.