If you have an elderly or infirm friend or relative in a nursing home, it is wise to keep a close watch on them to make sure that they are being well-treated and that their needs are being met. After all, some nursing home patients are no longer capable of advocating for themselves. It may be up to others to intervene when there are problems.
It’s easy to assume that patients who reside in nursing homes are totally dependent on their caretakers for all decisions, but in truth, these residents still retain a good bit of their autonomy. Also, they have many rights under both South Carolina and federal laws which may not be abridged by the nursing home administrators or staff.
What rights do nursing home patients have?
Nursing home residents enjoy many rights and protections under the auspices of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Patients in nursing homes and extended care facilities have, among others, the right to:
- Manage their finances
- Be free of abuse
- Report abuse without repercussions
- Sue the nursing care facility
- Have any visitors regularly at a time they choose
- Have their property safeguarded and be able to enjoy it
- Be party to their medical treatment and plan of care (POC)
What that can mean
As part of treating the residents with dignity and respect, nursing home staff must allow residents to determine their own bedtimes and when to wake up, when they choose to eat their meals and which activities to partake in during the day if their decisions aren’t in conflict with their care plans.
Of course, not all residents are mentally or physically capable of decision-making on their own behalf. It is these residents who are most vulnerable to abuse and neglect by their caregivers. For instance, bed-bound patients must be repositioned every few hours to prevent bedsores from starting or worsening. If the staff get too busy and forget, that act of negligence can set off a whole chain reaction of health problems for the bed-bound patient with bedsores.
Speak up for those who cannot
Have you noticed a decline in the quality of care that your loved one in a nursing home is receiving? Have there been incidents of suspected neglect or abuse? Speaking up on their behalf and alerting the nursing home administrator can bring about positive changes. If it doesn’t, you may need to escalate your complaint of nursing home abuse and file suit in the matter.