Thirty years ago, a study by the Institute of Medicine concluded that residents of nursing homes were being subjected to neglect, abuse, and inadequate care. Many of the subsequent reforms that were proposed were included in the Nursing Home Reform Act, which became law in 1987. The Act was intended to help nursing home patients receive quality care so that they could achieve or maintain their “highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.” Fundamentally, this means that residents should not experience a decline in their health as a result of the way they were provided treatment.
With the majority of nursing home care paid for with federal funds, compliance with the Act was fostered by making it a prerequisite for receiving Medicaid and Medicare payments. To achieve its goals, the Nursing Home Reform Act established a certification process that requires all states to conduct unannounced surveys as a way of monitoring the substantial compliance of facilities with the law. It also specifies services that each facility must provide, such as a comprehensive care plan that is resident-specific, periodic assessment of each resident, access to rehabilitation services, and access to pharmaceutical services.
Perhaps most importantly, the Act establishes a “Bill of Rights” that must be given to patients when they are admitted and must be posted in the facility. The list addresses fundamental areas including privacy, communication, independence, and participation. Some of the specific rights that every nursing home resident must be granted are:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- The right to freedom from physical restraints
- The right to privacy and confidentiality
- The right to access a telephone
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
- The right to participate in resident and family groups
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to exercise self-determination
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to practice religious beliefs as well as abstain from such practice
- The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility
- The right to secure possessions
- The right to visits by family, friends, and others of the resident’s choosing
- The right to manage one’s own financial affairs
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.
If you have reason to believe a family member has not been afforded these rights, question the facility on their behalf and file an official complaint if you don’t like the answer you get.
If you suspect someone you love is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the Georgia nursing home abuse attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we believe that nursing home patients deserve a safe place to live and the right to be free from abuse. Contact us to discuss your unique situation by calling 1-855-507-7598 or by filling out our online form.