Sadly, some nursing home owners are extracting millions of dollars in profits while dramatically cutting spending on the residents in their homes. Laws like the Kentucky Resident’s Rights Act are intended to prevent abuse and neglect of residents, but those laws only have teeth as long as there are lawyers who are willing to demand accountability from these owners in court.
What can you do if you or a loved one is in a long-term care facility? First, know your rights. Second, be vigilant. If something seems out of the ordinary, it probably is. Talk to nursing home management, but if the residents’ needs are not being met, you should talk to a competent attorney with experience holding nursing homes accountable.
What are your rights? The Kentucky Residents Rights Act is found at KRS 216.515 and includes the following residents’ rights:
· Be informed of all services available at the long-term-care facility.
· Be informed of all resident’s responsibilities and rights.
· Be informed of all service charges for which you are responsible for paying and have the right to file complaints concerning unjustified charges.
· Only be transferred or discharged (with reasonable notice) from the facility for medical reasons, for the welfare of the resident or other residents of the facility, or for nonpayment.
· Be encouraged and assisted to exercise your rights as a resident and a citizen, and to voice grievances and recommend changes to facility staff and to outside persons, free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.
· Be free from mental and physical abuse, and free from chemical and physical restraints, unless justified by a physician.
· Confidential treatment of your medical and personal records.
· Manage the use of your personal funds, and receive proper accounting and monitoring of any personal funds managed by the facility.
· Privacy for all visits by a spouse. If spouses are both residents in the facility, they may share the same room unless there is a medical reason not to.
· Never be required to perform services for the facility.
· Associate and communicate privately with persons of your choice and send and receive personal mail unopened.
· Retain the use of your personal clothing.
· Never be detained against your will; be permitted and encouraged to go outdoors and leave the premises.
· Participate in activities of social, religious, and community groups at their discretion.
· Be assured of visual privacy in shared rooms and in tub, shower, and toilet rooms.
· Have your choice of a physician.
· If you are found mentally disabled by a court, your guardian shall be permitted act on your behalf.
· Be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of your dignity, individuality, and privacy.
· You and your responsible family member shall be fully informed of your medical condition.
· Be suitably dressed at all times, and receiver needed assistance for hygiene and grooming.
· Have access to a telephone for making and receiving calls.
· Your responsible family shall be notified immediately of any accident, sudden illness, disease, unexplained absence, or anything else unusual.
· Have private meetings with state inspectors when necessary.
· Have access to all inspection reports on the facility.