When you trust your care or the care of an elderly loved one to a nursing facility, you need to know that you or your loved one will be protected. As part of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law, residents in Medicare or Medicaid-certified nursing homes are guaranteed certain residents’ rights. These rights protect residents’ quality of life under federal and state law. We have outlined a few of the rights nursing home residents are entitled to under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law.
Right to Dignity and Respect
Residents should always be treated with consideration and dignity. They have the right to self-determination and are able to choose their own schedules, what activities they participate in and what meals they receive.
Right to Make Complaints
Residents have the right to file an official complaint about nursing home staff or any person without fearing punishment. The nursing home should address and correct the issue promptly.
Right to Proper Medical Care
Rights in this category include being informed of medical conditions and healthcare, choosing doctors, making independent medical decisions and having access to health records and reports. Residents also have the right to develop care plans, create advance care directives, manage their own money or assign someone to, and express any complaints or grievances they have about their healthcare.
Right to Protection Against Unfair Transfer or Discharge
Residents also have the right to remain in a nursing facility unless any of the following are true:
• The resident has failed to pay.
• The resident no longer needs nursing home care.
• The resident’s needs cannot be met in a nursing home.
• The resident’s presence in the nursing home endangers others’ safety.
• The resident’s presence in the nursing home endangers others’ health.
• The nursing home is going out of business.
During a transfer or discharge, residents have these rights:
• The right to appeal a transfer or discharge.
• A resident cannot be forced to leave if he or she is waiting to get Medicaid.
• A thirty-day written notice of the discharge or transfer must be given to residents, except in emergencies.
• The nursing home must provide a safe transfer or discharge and give the resident and his/her family proper notice of bed-hold and readmission requirements.
Right to Receive and Refuse Visitors
Whether a visitor is a resident’s family member, friend, healthcare or legal professional, residents have the right to receive visitors and to also refuse visitors.
Right to Privacy and Confidentiality
Residents are entitled to privacy in their visits, phone calls, email and mail, and are entitled to keep and protect personal belongings. Residents also have the right to confidentiality for their medical, financial and personal affairs. Moving to a nursing home can be difficult, especially when a person was previously living alone and is not accustomed to sharing information or living space. Privacy is an important right that gives residents control over their personal matters and possessions.
Right to be Free from Abuse and Neglect
Residents have the right to be protected against verbal, physical, sexual, mental, financial and emotional abuse. Abuse is a growing problem within nursing facilities and many cases go undocumented. If you suspect that someone you love has been a victim of abuse, it is vital that it is reported. For immediate help call 911. To report abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website or call 1-800-490-8505 for any reports of abuse in Pennsylvania.
The list above includes only a few of the rights you are entitled to as the resident of a Medicare or Medicaid-certified nursing facility. If you have questions or concerns about residents’ rights, abuse in nursing facilities or need guidance in determining a nursing facility’s quality, please contact Newman Elder Law for assistance.