What You Should Know About Nursing Homes
Making the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home is not an easy one. In fact, it is probably one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make for your loved one. Often, the decision must be made at a time of crisis, and as a result, the decision may need to be done quickly.
There are approximately 15,600 nursing homes (NH) in the U.S. which participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and serve as a home for an estimated 1.4 million of America’s most vulnerable and infirm citizens. As of 2015, approximately 68% of NHs were owned by for-profit corporations, while 24% were run by nonprofit organizations, and the remaining NHs were government-owned.
NH regulations are complicated. The federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) fashion the regulations and guidelines for NHs in the U.S. However, the enforcement of those regulations and guidelines is left to the individual states. Each state is required to conduct unannounced inspections of every facility and is subject to CMS approval. (AARP)
The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) was established to ensure that NH residents receive the “highest practicable” mental, physical, and psychosocial care. The NHRA enforces quality care and the provision of certain services to nursing home residents. At a minimum, federal law states
that a nursing home must protect and promote the rights of each resident.
The nursing home must list and give all new residents a copy of these rights which include, but are not limited to:
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- The right to be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home.
- The right to manage your own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for you.
- The right to privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property if it doesn’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
- The right to be informed about your medical condition, medications, and to see your own doctor. You also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.
- The right to have a choice over your schedule (e.g. when you get up, go to sleep, etc.), your activities, and other preferences which are important to you.
- The right to an environment more like a home which maximizes your comfort and provides you with assistance
to be as independent as possible.
Did you know that NHs cannot limit visiting hours? Under federal law you have the right to visit your loved one any time, day or night. Additionally, a NH cannot discharge your loved one to another facility because he/she is difficult to deal with.
Must Ask Questions (This is not an exhaustive list.)
- What are the staffing ratios?
- What is the turnover?
- How do you prevent bedsores?
- Do you offer individual treatment plans?
- How does the NH prevent infections?
- What type of therapy is available?
- Do you have abuse prevention?
- Are specialists (i.e. eye doctors, ear doctors, dentists, and podiatrists) available to see residents on a regular basis?
- How will you get access to oral care in the NH?
- How will you get access to mental health care in the NH?
- What is the nursing home’s policy for the use of anti-psychotic medication in dementia patient?
- What types of meals does the NH serve?
BE SURE TO READ THE FINE PRINT. One of the papers you will most likely be signing upon admission is an agreement regarding arbitration. Arbitration agreements do not allow you to file a lawsuit, and any claims you may have will be handled by an arbitrator. Once you sign on the dotted line, you may be giving give up the right to sue the NH, even if you have a claim for wrongful death. Review all the print in a contract before choosing a nursing home.
If you believe your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact our office immediately. At Rosensteel & Fleishman we will aggressively advocate for you and your family and get the justice your loved one deserves. Please call our office at 704-714-1450 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. We will schedule an appointment which meets your needs. There is no fee for the initial consultation.