Hartford, CT- October is Nursing Home Resident Rights Month and in honor of that, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy signed the Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights, making the state the first to pass such a law.
The signing ceremony was a victory for Mary Frost who has been fighting for the legislation for over eight years. The 74 year old woman has lived in nursing homes for thirteen years and says she is happy at her new home, but that didn’t stop her from pressing Connecticut lawmakers to take steps a give people like her added protections.
Frost began to advocate for nursing home patient’s rights after realizing that patients who complained about their treatment in a long term care facilities are often subjected to retaliation from staff.
Frost who has been staying at the Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford for the past five years learned firsthand that complaining about issues at the facility could result in retaliation and snide comments from staff.
“My breakfast, lunch and dinner trays were either late, or lost. Or you hear in the hallway; ‘she’s a squealer, watch out for her,” Frost explained to News 8.
Frost said the sometimes staff would also refuse to change her diapers or subject her and other residents to retaliatory actions.
Governor Malloy joined Frost at her nursing home for a ceremonial bill signing.
“With one of the largest aging populations in the United States, Connecticut has one of the highest rates of seniors in nursing homes,” Malloy said, according to Connecticut News Junkie.
“Research has found that nearly 25 percent of nursing home residents in Connecticut believe they have been abused or they have witnessed abuse,” Malloy said, Connecticut News Junkie reported. “More troubling is that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever brought to the attention of authorities.”
Connecticut’s long term care ombudsman Mary Shaffer said the problem of retaliation is widespread and praised Frost for her efforts.
“Connecticut is the first state in the country, this is really landmark in terms of acknowledging the issue and taking some steps to do something about it,” said Shaffer.
With the passage of the bill of rights, staffing members of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will receive yearly training on a patient’s right to file complaints and or voice other grievances. They will also be instructed on what could be perceived as retaliation along with ways to prevent retaliation.
This legislation is a great step towards preventing abuse and neglect in nursing homes and hopefully other states will follow suit. When patients are fearful that they will be retaliated against for speaking out about neglect and abuse, the problem will only persist. Only when nursing home residents feel free to speak up about abuse or neglect can the problem be reduced.
All nursing home residents deserve the right to dignity and respect. If they are being abused or neglected, a nursing home abuse attorney can advocate for their rights and help them obtain compensation if they have been harmed.