Personal Injury

Nursing Home Abuse FAQs

Q: Are nursing homes required to keep records of the care provided?

  • A:Yes. Legislation on the federal and state levels requires documentation of assessments, plans of care and the care provided.

Q: Are residents entitled to privacy?

  • A:Yes. Nursing homes should respect an individual's privacy concerning phone calls, meetings with family members or other individuals, medical records and procedures and religious observations.

Q: Can a nursing home force a resident to leave?

  • A:Federal regulations require any long-term care home or facility to provide 30 days written notice and complete an appropriate discharge plan if they determine a resident can no longer stay at the home. The nursing home cannot arbitrarily terminate or transfer a resident, but must provide one or more of the following reasons:

    • The nursing home cannot provide the care necessary for the resident
    • Care is no longer needed due to the improvement of the health of the resident
    • The health or safety of individuals in the facility is endangered
    • The resident is unable to pay for care (although the facility cannot evict a resident who is waiting for Medicaid eligibility)
    • The nursing home is closing

Q: Can a nursing home resident change facilities at any time?

  • A:Yes. A nursing home cannot restrict the movement of a resident to another home, especially if the resident is fully capable of making such a decision. If a resident isn't able to make such a choice, the immediate family should be allowed to make the determination. It may be necessary to establish a guardianship.

Q: Can a nursing home restrict who visits the residents and when?

  • A:Nursing homes can set what would commonly be known as reasonable "visiting hours" to help establish routines and smooth operations of the facility in the best interest of their residents. The resident can indicated the desire to allow or not allow visits from family members and others, and reserves the right to change consent at any time. Visits by medical personnel such as the resident's general physician or any state or local representative must be allowed at any time.

Q: What are some clues that nursing home abuse or neglect is occurring to a resident?

  • A:Look for the following signs that a resident is not being taken care of properly:

    • Dehydration
    • Bedsores
    • Weight loss
    • Bruises, swelling or welts
    • Soiled clothes
    • If the resident appears withdrawn, fearful or depressed

Q: What is an assessment and care plan?

  • A:Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, each facility must make an initial assessment of a resident's interests, strengths, and needs within fourteen days of the resident's admission to the nursing home (or seven days for Medicare residents). Assessment reviews should be held annually or when a resident's condition changes and requires attention.

    A plan of care, which sets out what will be done, who will perform the task, as well as when it is to be completed, is established based on the assessment. The initial plan should be completed within seven days after the assessment is finalized.

Q: What is nursing home abuse?

  • A:Dependent adults who reside in a nursing home can be exposed to a variety of abuse, including:

    • Physical abuse
    • Rape or sexual assault
    • Over-sedation
    • Verbal or emotional abuse

Q: What is nursing home neglect?

  • A:Neglect can take on a variety of forms, including the failure to:

    • Provide clean and adequate clothing
    • Provide medical care for both physical and mental health needs
    • Protect the resident from health and safety hazards
    • Protect an individual from abuse from other residents
    • Prevent malnutrition and dehydration

Q: What is the Nursing Home Reform Act?

  • A:The act, part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, was established to ensure that residents of nursing homes receive quality care. The act specifies:

    • Nursing homes which receive Medicare and Medicaid funding are certified to meet the criteria established in the Act and care for residents in a manner that promotes the maintenance or enhancement of the quality of life of each resident
    • Resident's rights concerning, for example, choice, privacy, safety and autonomy. Federal regulations announced under the NHRA require that nursing homes must protect and promote the rights and overall care of each resident.
    • Penalties that may be imposed for failure to follow the regulations including training, monitoring and monetary penalties.

Q: What obligations do nursing home facilities have concerning a resident's property or financial accounts?

  • A:The facility cannot misappropriate a resident's funds or property or allow other residents to. Based on state guidelines, facilities must place resident funds in interest-bearing accounts and be able to provide a full accounting of the funds deposited. A nursing home cannot require a resident to deposit his or her funds with the nursing home in order to obtain care.

Q: Where should suspected abuse be reported?

  • A:Notify the nursing home administrator immediately. The administration is required to investigate and report it to state agencies. If you feel it is necessary, you can contact the adult protective service, the office of aging in your area or an elder law attorney.

Q: Why does nursing home abuse and neglect occur?

  • A:A specific nursing home may have unique problems. But most situations develop due to the difficulty in attracting and keeping quality, skilled staff, as well as inadequate training. Additionally, issues can often arise when visits by family and friends are few and sporadic, leaving the resident without opinions and support from others.

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