Nursing Home Residents Have Rights.
In the United States there are laws to protect the rights of nursing home residents: The Nursing Home Reform Act under Title IV: of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 created uniform guidelines for long-term care facilities receiving federal Medicaid and Medicare funding that grant all nursing home residents the rights to maintain and receive adequate nutrition, personal hygiene, mental and emotional support, and social involvement. Those who are incapable of daily living activities such as grooming and using the restroom are entitled to personalized care from nursing home staff, and treatment that does not violate the resident’s dignity or respect.
Nursing home abuse, through intentional or unintentional neglect, has become a more serious issue in the United States, revealing itself when residents show the following signs:
- Does your loved one look dirty? Lack of personal hygiene is the most common red flag reflecting the nurses and staff are not assisting the resident with basic activities of daily living, including bathing, brushing teeth, nail clipping, combing hair, and dressing to name a few of the important ones that impact dignity and self-respect.
- Does the facility smell like urine or garbage? In accordance with 42 U.S. Code § 1395i–3, nursing facilities must “establish and maintain an infection control program designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment in which residents reside…” They also must meet state requirements for safety and security. Make certain your loved one has clean clothes and bedding, clean bathroom areas and a sanitary kitchen.
- Does your loved one look thinner, or have dark circles under their eyes? Lack of proper nutrition can manifest in physical issues such as dehydration and malnutrition which can escalate more serious medical issues in an elder patient. Poor nutrition affects millions of people in nursing homes, not because the food is unavailable, but because there is no one available to assist with eating it.
- Does it seem harder for your loved one to move around since becoming a resident? A good nursing home will make sure staff helps residents move around, exercise and remain as active as possible. Many facilities use walking programs to build muscle tone and strength, improve circulation, increase balance and reduce spasms and contractures. Neglect shows if a person is left in bed for long periods of time, risking a loss of all mobility, and bedsores and infections.
- Has your loved one been injured? Broken bones, bruises or head injuries could be a significant indicator that abuse, or neglect is taking place through something as simple as walking without assistance leading to falls or other preventable injuries.
- Emotional or psychological changes. Neglect can cause residents to become fearful of caregivers and talking to loved ones about things they are subjected to and may become distant or resentful of having to live away from home. Any change should be noted and discussed with resident, loved ones, caregivers and in some cases the National Adult Protective Service Association.
- Self-neglect can also occur when a person’s feels disrespect and can include refusal to eat, take medicine, bathe or move about.
It is important that family and friends who are visiting loved ones in a skilled care facility know how to identify neglect that can spin out of control into full out abuse.
If you suspect a nursing home is not providing the level of care needed, contact your local ombudsman program.
Hire an attorney.
If you have personally experienced nursing home abuse, or are a family member of someone who has, you should meet with an attorney at the Law Offices of Malouf & Malouf, who has experience dealing with matters involving negligence in the care of a nursing home resident.
Law Offices of Malouf & Malouf, PLLC
501 E. Capitol Street
Jackson, MS 39201