Nursing home abuse including, elder abuse, hospice malpractice, bed sores, severe injuries and wrongful death.
As cases of nursing home abuse and neglect become more frequent, more state and federal laws are introduced to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Unfortunately, abuse of nursing home residents has become an increasingly common occurrence; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over 500,000 adults over the age of 60 experience abuse and neglect each year. Elder abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial, or it can come in the form of neglect or abandonment. In response to this phenomenon, legislation has been introduced within the last 20 years to protect nursing home residents.
There are several federal laws in effect which protect the rights of nursing home citizens, such asTitle XX of the Social Security Act. This program allows federal funds to provide care in the community for elderly and disabled adults. This program includes efforts to prevent abuse and neglect of nursing home residents.
Another federal program, which exists in every state, is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The Ombudsmen is a group which advocates for nursing home residents. They work to better the care of individual residents by investigating individual complaints about nursing home abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The Older Americans Act is a program which provides health and nutrition programs to the elderly through state and community agencies.
The Nursing Home Reform Act is a piece of legislation introduced in 1987 which ensures quality basic care for nursing home residents. The most important aspect of this legislation is that it enacted a “Resident’s Bill of Rights” which specifies the basic level of care a nursing home resident is entitled to. If a nursing home facility violates these rights, the state has the authority under the Nursing Home Reform Act to impose penalties, which could be fines or a replacement of the nursing home facility’s management structure.
The Nursing Home Reform Act includes the following rights for nursing home residents:
- The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
- The right to freedom from physical restraints
- The right to privacy
- The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
- The right to participate in resident and family groups
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to exercise self-determination
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.
Adult Protective Services programs are present in every state. These programs are in place to generally protect and benefit older adults and adults with disabilities. Adult Protective Services (APS) is usually alerted when nursing home abuse or neglect is reported to law enforcement or other social services, and the APS will perform an investigation. During the investigation, the resident’s needs will be assessed as well as the facility’s ability to provide adequate food, shelter, health care, clothing, and hygiene.