Younger woman sits over an elderly woman to help her read a piece of paper in a well-lit room

Nursing Home Resident Rights

Nursing home abuse is nothing new. It has been a subject of congressional interest since Civil War veterans died in ramshackle poorhouses during the Great Depression.

The Social Security act would provide a source of income for these aging Americans, but it would also create the nursing home industry. Even in the early days, nursing home abuse ran rampant and unchecked for decades.

What Happened?

In 1987, something changed. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, granting nursing home residents a bill of rights. Now, 33 years later, nursing home abuse has come before congress again, reportedly affecting 1-in-3 nursing homes.

All nursing home residents and their loved ones should know nursing home resident rights so they can identify warning signs of abuse.

What is the Residents’ Bill of Rights?

Under the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Proper physical and mental care
  • Privacy
  • Dignity
  • Possessions
  • Make their own choices
  • Accept or refuse visitors
  • Complain without punishment or discrimination
  • Participate with facility members and families.
  • Freedom from abuse and neglect
  • Freedom from physical restraints
  • Freedom to refuse medication
  • Be informed about their care plan and changes in treatment.
  • Be informed of changes to the facility.

How Are These Rights Enforced?

To enforce these rights, the state government sends teams of surveyors to each nursing facility at least every 15 months. Residents are interviewed during surveys to help get a better picture of the facility.

Facilities found in violation could have their funding reduced or cut entirely. In some cases, the government will take control of the nursing facility until the problems have been sorted. Likewise, those responsible for criminal abuse will likely face charges.

However, despite news laws and addendums, nursing home abuse is still an issue across the country. This is not an issue that will stop overnight. Making a positive change starts with reporting suspicious activity and listening to elders when they raise concerns.

If someone you love suffers from nursing home abuse, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney from the Obenshain Law Group, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (540) 318-7360.

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