Chicago, IL- We often discuss he prevalence and horrors of nursing home abuse and neglect. While it is still a widespread problem across the country, it was a much worse problem before the 80s when legislators passed a set of protections to improve the care nursing home residents receive and give them additional protections from abuse and neglect.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 was among the a set of reforms intended to improve conditions in nursing homes and other long-term care and enhance the quality of care nursing home residents receive. While the act primarily focused on formulating guidelines through which Medicaid and Medicare finding would be provided to nursing homes. The legislation also outlined the basic rights residents of long-term care facilities have and expectations about the quality of care they should receive.
Nursing Home Resident’s Rights
All nursing home residents have the right:
- To privacy
- Unhindered speech
- Freedom to voice concerns and grievances
- Participation in the care and services they receive
In addition to outlining the rights residents have, the NHRA also outline the type of care they can expect to receive.
- Dietary, pharmaceutical, and rehabilitation services
- Comprehensive, individualized care plans
- Social workers (for certain facilities)
Even with formal legislation, the nursing home abuse and neglect is still an issue. The National Council on Elderly Abuse estimates that 10 percent of residents in long-term care facilities are abused or neglected. This is also an issue that the elderly face in their homes and are frequently subjected to mistreatment by their family and other caregivers.
One way for a resident to redress their grievances is by filing a complaint both with the nursing home and the state Long-term Care Ombudsman. This may curtail the neglect or abuse, but it doesn’t ease the financial and emotional burden resident’s face.
Neglect and abuse can lead to injuries, chronic health problems, depression, and the worst case death. They lose trust in their caregivers and confidence that someone cares about their well-being. Abused or neglected residents often face unnecessary and expensive medical costs and mental duress.
While legislation goes a long way in protecting nursing home residents but nursing home abuse attorney believe there is a lot that needs to be done and awareness must be raised.
One way to raise awareness is through civil litigation, by holding a facility financially accountable for their negligence. A nursing home abuse suit serves to compensate the victim for the unnecessary costs they have occurred, and it also serves to make a community aware of what is happening in their local nursing homes as these cases often go under media scrutiny.
Successful nursing home abuse lawsuits often impose punitive damages on facilities that fail a resident. Punitive damages are meant to punish the facility in question by forcing them to pay large settlement amounts to the victim. The theory being that a costly settlement will ideally encourage a facility to improve their care and better protect their residents from abuse.