When you admit yourself or a loved one to a nursing home or a long-term care facility, you have a number of rights that ensure you maintain a healthy standard of care and quality of life. It’s important to understand your rights and what action you can take if you feel your rights or the rights of your loved one has been violated in a nursing home.
Nursing Home Residents’ Rights
The Right to Non-Discrimination
You have the right to be free from discrimination when being considered for admission and when staying at the nursing facility. All nursing homes in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and across the United States are required to comply with Civil Rights laws that prohibit discrimination in nursing homes on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender presentation, sexuality, religion, age, or disability.
The Right to Information
You and your family have the right to obtain information about the nursing home’s services and fees in writing. You should be told what is being charged to you and what is being charged to your insurance, and the nursing home must display or provide information on how residents can apply for Medicaid and Medicare benefits and use them in the nursing home. You also have the right to information about how to get a refund for services you paid for that Medicare or Medicaid later reimbursed you for. You also have the right to obtain information about the facility’s fire and health safety inspection results.
The Right to Be Respected
You or your loved one have the inherent right to be treated with respect and dignity by nursing home staff. You have the freedom to decide your own routine and engage in the interests of your choice. You or your loved one have the right to choose when you go to sleep, when you wake up, and when you have meals.
The Right to Be Attended To
You or your loved one have the right to be attended to by nursing home staff. You have the right to be free from neglect, including the right to be provided with nutrition, hydration, hygiene, exercise, and socialization.
The Right to Adequate Medical Care
In terms of medical treatment for yourself or your loved one in a nursing home, you have the following rights:
- To receive comprehensive information about your overall health condition in a language you can comprehend
- To have a thorough understanding of the prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements or vitamins that are recommended by your doctor
- To participate in the selection of your physician
- To be involved in making decisions related to your healthcare
- To participate in the creation of your mandatory care plan. You also have the right to invite family members to assist with the creation of your mandatory care plan and they may participate with your consent.
- To have immediate access to all of your information and records. Additionally, your legal guardian has the authority to review your records and make decisions about your care for you or on your behalf.
- To voice any concerns you may have concerning your medical treatment.
- To prepare advance directives such as a living will, a power of attorney, or a health care proxy in conformity with state law.
- To deny experimental treatment, therapy, procedures, or medications.
The Right to Your Property
You or your loved one have the right to bring personal property and belongings with you to the nursing home that comply with the facility’s health and safety policies. You have the right to keep personal belongings with you and/or in your room provided that they do not pose a risk to the health or safety of other nursing home residents. The nursing home has a duty to protect your personal property from theft within reason.
The Right to Privacy
You or your loved one in a nursing home have the following rights to privacy:
- You or your loved one in a nursing home have the following rights to privacy:
- To make and receive private telephone calls.
- To be able to transmit and receive physical mail and email in private.
- To share a room with your spouse if you and your spouse both reside in the same nursing facility, so long as both you and your spouse are in agreement
- To have your roommate preferences considered before you are placed with a roommate or a new roommate is placed with you.
- To be notified that you will have a roommate change ahead of time.
The Right to Be Free of Abuse
You or your loved one in a long-term care facility have the right to be free of all forms of nursing home abuse, including physical, mental, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse. A nursing home may not keep a patient isolated in their room or away from other people against their will.
The Right to Be Free From Physical or Chemical Restraint
A nursing home may not use physical restraints such as wrist or ankle straps, handcuffs, etc. to restrain a patient to their bed or a wheelchair for disciplinary or convenience purposes. They also may not use chemical restraints such as sedatives or antipsychotics to make a patient docile or complacent either for disciplinary or convenience purposes. You or your loved one in a nursing home have the right to only be chemically or physically restrained in the event you or your loved one are a danger to yourself or others.
The Right to Control Your Finances
You or your loved one in a nursing home have the right to control your own finances or designated a trusted person to do this on your behalf. You also have the right:
- To notify the nursing home in writing that you would like them to hold money in an account for you.
- To access your cash, bank accounts, savings accounts, and other funds.
- To access your bank statements and other financial records.
Nursing homes are required to have accounting systems to manage resident funds and they may not commingle resident funds with facility funds. They are mandated to protect your money from losses that may occur from employee theft, hacking, etc. When a resident with funds in an account passes away, the nursing home must submit a check for the funds with a final ledger to the person handling the deceased’s estate. This must be done within 30 days of the resident’s death.
The Right to Engage In Social Activities
You or your loved one have the right to engage in social and activity programs that are tailored to the needs of all residents, including yourself or your loved one. Nursing homes must make social and activity programs available to residents on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
The Right to Visitation
You or your loved one have the right:
- To have visitors at any point with your consent, provided that the visit does not interfere with the care or privacy of other facility residents.
- To visit with anyone who provides you health, legal, social, or other assistance.
- To visit with others privately.
The Right to File a Complaint
You or your loved one in a nursing home have the right to submit a complaint to facility personnel, or to anybody else, without fear of retaliation. The care facility must address the problem as soon as possible. They may not punish you or treat you poorly because you made a complaint about the care you receive or any other complaint to any staff member or governing body.
The Right to Have Your Legal Representative Contacted
You or your loved one in a long-term care facility have the right to have your physician and your legal representative or next of kin contacted immediately in the following situations:
- You are injured or were in an accident
- You experience a worsening in your mental or physical health
- Your health condition(s) become life-threatening
- There are complications with your healthcare or treatment
- You require a significant change to your treatment plan
- The nursing home wishes to discharge you or transfer you to another nursing home
The Right to Deny Unfair Discharge or Transfer
You or your loved one cannot be transferred to another nursing facility or be forced to leave one unless one or more of the below conditions are met:
- It is required for your or others’ well-being, health, or safety.
- Your health has improved to the point that you no longer require long-term care.
- The nursing facility has not been compensated for the services you received.
- The nursing home needs to close.
You may not be discharged, transferred, or otherwise forced to leave if your Medicaid application is pending. The facility must provide you with written notice at least 30 days prior to the date of discharge or transfer, which must include their reason for transferring or discharging you. They are required to provide you with adequate notice of bed-holds and readmission criteria, and must transfer or discharge you safely according to industry standards.
If the nursing facility wishes to discharge or transfer you or your loved one at any point, you have the right to appeal your discharge or transfer to the state you live in.
The Right to Social Services
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must provide necessary social services, such as:
- Counseling services.
- Conflict mediation and resolution services.
- Social support services, including assistance with locating financial and legal resources.
- Planning for discharge from the facility.
You or your loved one have a right to request these services at any time.
The Right to Contact Your Family
You or your loved one in a nursing home have the right to reach out to friends and family at any time. Family members, friends, and legal guardians are welcome to interact with other residents at the facility and their families. They may engage in family conferences and w ith your consent, family members and friends can assist you with your treatment plan. If you have a legal guardian, they have the authority to access your medical records and make decisions about your treatment or care on your behalf, without your consent.
The Right to Leave the Nursing Home
You or your loved one in a long-term care facility have the right to leave for visits or leave the facility at any time, with a few exceptions:
- Your health must allow for you to leave and your doctor must approve of your visit home, travel, or discharge.
- Your health insurance must allow you to leave for visits, otherwise you may lose coverage.
- You may have to provide written notice of your intent to leave the nursing home either for visitation or permanently within a certain period of time before the date you will be leaving.
You or your loved one do not have to live in a nursing home against your wishes. You have the right to choose which facility you live in, if you choose to live in one at all.
Get Help From Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Mazow | McCullough, PC Today
Protecting the rights of yourself or your loved one in a long-term care facility or nursing home is of the utmost importance. If you feel that you or your loved one’s rights have been violated, you should act immediately. Call today for your consultation by dialing our Salem, MA office at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.