Legal Rights Of Nursing Home Residents

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A recent increase in the senior citizen population has contributed to an increase in nursing home facilities and long-term care residences, as many members of the aging population need extended care. In addition to new nursing homes being established, many nursing homes have a high percentage of residents, but are understaffed or staffed with members who have received minimal amounts of training.

The increase in nursing homes, understaffed nursing homes, and nursing homes staffed with inexperienced or under-qualified employees are connected to an increase in cases of nursing home abuse, including medical issues such as bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, and social or emotional withdrawal.

If a loved one is in need of the long-term care provided by nursing homes, it is important to have an understanding of nursing home abuse, as well as the legal rights of nursing home residents.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse involves a caregiver or other staff member taking actions that serve to cause the elder discomfort or harm. These actions may be done knowingly, intentionally, or be the result of negligence.

Physical nursing home abuse is a common form of abuse. It involves inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical harm or pain to an elderly or vulnerable individual, such as by hitting, slapping, or pushing.
Emotional/Psychological Abuse encompasses the infliction of mental pain, distress, or anguish on a vulnerable adult or elderly individual through verbal or non-verbal acts. This might include yelling at an individual, threatening someone, making lewd comments, or any other number of scenarios.
Sexual nursing home abuse is sexual harassment or any sort of non-consensual sexual conduct with an elder.
Neglect is a refusal or failure to provide elderly or vulnerable individuals with basic necessities, such as food, water, shelter, or protection.

Legal Rights
The federal government has established laws to protect the rights of individuals living in nursing homes. These laws include:
The right to be free from verbal, physical, and mental abuse, as well as corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion.
The right to be free from physical or chemical restraints unless otherwise authorized by a doctor for a designated time period.
The right to live in safe, clean conditions with proper amenities.
The right to be treated with respect, recognizing individuality and dignity. This encompasses privacy for medical treatment and personal needs, such as use of the restroom or bathing facilities.
The right to be fully informed by a medical doctor, unless information is deemed to be against a patient's best interests.
The right to be fully informed of medical treatment.
The right to have daily visitations and visiting hours.
The right to retain personal possessions and clothing, within reason.
If married, the right to receive spousal visits. If both spouses reside in a nursing facility, they have the right to room together if medically feasible.
The right to participate in social, religious, and community groups.

These rights are not all inclusive. To learn more about nursing home residents' rights, it is recommended that you consult your local nursing home ombudsman or a lawyer is well-versed in the laws surrounding nursing homes.

Nursing home residents have the same rights as everyone else. If the rights of someone you know are being violated, it is important to notify a lawyer, as well as any authorities who can help. A lawyer will be able to help you ensure that the abuser is held accountable for his or her actions, and that he or she will never be able to hurt another senior citizen or vulnerable adult in the same manner.


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