Know Your Rights

Nursing home residents enjoy protections under the law. The  involvement of a Life Care Planning Law Firm often helps increase the odds that your loved one will get quality care.

Across the country, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities along with family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff and others will honor the individual rights of long-term care residents by celebrating Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect and the value of long-term care residents.

The Nursing Home Reform Law, passed in 1987 and updated in 2016, guarantees nursing home residents their individual rights, including but not limited to: individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain, and the right to make independent choices. Residents who have made their home in other types of facilities, including nursing homes, assisted living centers, adult care homes, and other long-term care facilities, maintain their rights as U.S. Citizens. Residents’ Rights Month raises awareness about these rights and pays tribute to the unique contributions of long-term residents.

Working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm gives families a powerful advocate, according to Kathy Cline, LSW, an Elder Care Coordinator for Daniel P. Seink Co., Ltd., a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Brecksville, Ohio. “The ultimate goal is to empower residents with individualized care that is focused on each person’s needs and preferences,” said Kathy, who has spent her career advocating for seniors.

How does a Life Care Planning Law Firm help families protect the rights of nursing home residents? Elder Care Coordinators serve as a sounding board, coach, educator, and intermediary for family caregivers, helping them to resolve concerns. If problems with a long-term care facility persist, the firm’s attorneys can take further action to hold the facility accountable.

In her five years as an Elder Care Coordinator at a Life Care Planning Law Firm, Kathy has helped many family caregivers advocate for the rights of their loved ones who are living in nursing homes. “One of the most common issues happens when the nursing home wants to move a resident to a different room because it’s more convenient for the facility, not because it’s what’s best for the resident,” said Kathy. “The law says that residents have the right to know why they’re being moved and have the right to give input into whether they want to be moved. A move isn’t automatic just because the facility wants it to happen.”

Kathy also helps families to know what their rights are. “We had a client whose family wanted to bring her lift chair to the nursing home,” Kathy recalled. “The nursing home refused. The family didn’t realize that the law was on their side. Caregivers can easily get bamboozled by nursing home staff who say you need their permission for everything. It’s important to remember that the nursing home is your loved one’s home. It’s not the nursing home’s role to control them.”

If you’re not working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm, where can you go for help? The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is one option. With more than 8,000 volunteers and 1,000 paid staff, the program has worked for more than 30 years to serve as advocates for residents in all 50 states. It also provides information on how to find a facility, conducts community education sessions, and supports residents, their families and the public with one-on-one consultation regarding long-term care. For more information, visit http://ltcombudsman.org/about/about-ombudsman.