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Nursing Home Abuse: Laws and Resources

Caring for an elderly loved-one can be especially stressful when the challenge of aging is compounded by illness and/or cog genitive impairment. Because of the vulnerability that can accompany aging, the elderly are often at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. In fact, the United States has seen a considerable rise in elder abuse in the many institutions dedicated to the care of the elderly and adult disabled.

Nursing home abuse has, therefore, been the focus of much federal legislation in just the past two decades. If you are considering a local nursing home for the day to day care of your elderly or disabled loved one, know the laws that are in place to protect them.

Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987: The Nursing Home Reform Act was designed to ensure that residents of nursing homes are given quality care and protection. One key aspect of the Act is the  "Resident’s Bill of Rights." As a result of the "Resident's Bill of Rights," nursing home residents in the US are legally entitled to the following: 

  1. The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
  2. The right to freedom from physical restraints
  3. The right to privacy
  4. The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
  5. The right to participate in resident and family groups
  6. The right to be treated with dignity
  7. The right to exercise self-determination
  8. The right to communicate freely
  9. 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; and
  10. The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.

Other federal legislation in place to provide programs for the care and benefit of the elderly, particularly those in the care of a nursing home, include:

Title XX of the Social Security Act: Title XX provides federal funding to states to maintain community-based care for the elderly and disabled, including initiatives established to prevent the abuse and neglect of residents of nursing homes.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman: An Ombudsman is an independent advocate for residents of nursing homes whose aim is to work on behalf of individual residents towards resolution when situations involving resident complaints arise. Each state has an Ombudsman’s office that investigates individual complaints of nursing home abuse and neglect. Residents and family members are encouraged to reach out to them directly to report instances of abuse.

Older Americans Act: This program has established an extensive network of state agencies that offer a comprehensive platform of services surrounding health and nutrition to the elderly. While the federal legislation offers protections and oversight for the care of elderly and disabled nursing home residents, it's up to each state to implement and monitor these programs. And it is the responsibility of each state to take punitive action when abuse occurs or when any of the above rights and provisions are not observed.

If you or a family member are the victim of elder abuse or if your loved one has suffered suspicious or unexplained injury while in the care of an elder care professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can properly coordinate an investigation and file a personal injury claim on your loved one's behalf and fight to not only stop the abuse but also recover damages to cover medical care for their injuries, compensate for pain and suffering and, in some cases, levy punitive damages.

If you have any questions about filing an elder abuse personal injury claim, call 888.799.7561. We can help.

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