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October is National Residents’ Rights Month

October is National Residents’ Rights Month

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October marks a celebration to honor seniors who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.  It also is a time to support Ombudsmen, facility staff, citizens and family members who promote residents’ rights.

In 1987 the Nursing Home Reform Law established residents’ rights for quality care and quality of life for seniors.

The theme selected for this year’s celebration is “Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and Their Communities.” Expect to see local events and educational programs to increase awareness of residents’ rights.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law addresses the following rights of long term care residents:

The Right to Be Fully Informed

  • Available services and the charges for each service
  • Facility rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights
  • Address and telephone number of the State Ombudsman and state survey agency
  • State survey reports and the nursing home’s plan of correction
  • Advance plans of a change in rooms or roommates
  • Assistance if a sensory impairment exists
  • Residents have a right to receive information in a language they understand

Right to Complain

  • Present grievances to staff or any other person, without fear of reprisal and with prompt efforts by the facility to resolve those grievances
  • To complain to the ombudsman program
  • To file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency

Right to Participate in One’s Own Care

  • Receive adequate and appropriate care
  • Be informed of all changes in medical condition
  • Participate in their own assessment, care-planning, treatment, and discharge
  • Refuse medication and treatment
  • Refuse chemical and physical restraints
  • Review one’s medical record
  • Be free from charge for services covered by Medicaid or Medicare

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

  • Private and unrestricted communication with any person of their choice
  • During treatment and care of one’s personal needs
  • Regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs

Rights During Transfers and Discharges

  • Remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge:
    • is necessary to meet the resident’s welfare;
    • is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved and s/he no longer requires nursing home care;
    • is needed to protect the health and safety of other residents or staff;
    • is required because the resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay the facility charge for an item or service provided at the resident’s request
  • Receive thirty-day notice of transfer or discharge which includes the reason, effective date, location to which the resident is transferred or discharged, the right to appeal, and the name, address, and telephone number of the state long-term care ombudsman
  • Safe transfer or discharge through sufficient preparation by the nursing home

Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom

  • To be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity
  • To be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints
  • To self-determination
  • Security of possessions

Right to Visits

  • By a resident’s personal physician and representatives from the state survey agency and ombudsman programs
  • By relatives, friends, and others of the residents’ choosing
  • By organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services
  • Residents have the right to refuse visitors

Right to Make Independent Choices

  • Make personal decisions, such as what to wear and how to spend free time
  • Reasonable accommodation of one’s needs and preferences
  • Choose a physician
  • Participate in community activities, both inside and outside the nursing home
  • Organize and participate in a Resident Council
  • Manage one’s own financial affairs

Everyone should know their rights and responsibilities when part of a long term care community as well as exercise those rights, because they are of no value otherwise.  To learn more, find an educational event in your area.

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