Articles Posted in Residents and Family Members

nursing home visitors

Approved Visitors Must Be Provided Immediate Access to Nursing Home Residents

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released revised nursing facility regulations that supports the rights of residents to “receive visitors of their choosing at the time of their choosing and require the facility to provide immediate access to the resident in accordance with the regulations.” These rights include access to spouses and domestic partners, including those of the same-sex.

But even with rules and regulations, there have been too many accounts of residents being told, “visiting hours are over,” “you can call your daughter tomorrow,” or “let’s wait to have a visitor for when you are feeling better,” by nursing home staff. When in reality, nursing homes should seek to allow residents the freedom to make their own decisions and help them see the choice for visitors out. Living in a nursing home does not take away a senior citizen’s rights to make choices about their own life, especially when requesting to see a family member or friend or accepting their visits.

If elder abuse and neglect strikes you or someone you love, it is important to ensure there is full, legal accountability. But how is that done? The accountability can take different forms, both under the civil law and criminal law.

If the misconduct is intentional or particularly abhorrent, then criminal charges may be filed against those involved. Prosecutors make the determination as to whether the situation involves the breaking of a law in the state criminal code. Potential penalties in these cases may include jail time, probation, fines, or various other punishments.

Alternatively, those individuals directly harmed by the mistreatment (or their families) decide to pursue accountability under the civil law. In civil lawsuits alleging elder neglect, the potential outcome is usually not a “punishment” for the wrongdoer but instead compensation to help the one harmed.

Those willing to abuse and neglect others usually prey on the most vulnerable. Nursing home residents often have physical, mental, and emotional weaknesses that make them easy targets for mistreatment. That is why all seniors in long-term care facilities need advocates on their side.

In Illinois, as in many states, one of the most important advocates for nursing homes residents is known as an “Ombudsman.” It is a funny title that comes with very serious duties. An ombudsman is usually an official government representative who is charged with ensuring that seniors at care facilities have their rights respected.

A helpful My Web Times story for last week shines a spotlight on one ombudsman, offering a helpful analysis of what these advocates do and how Illinois residents can take advantage of their support services.

The total number of elderly Illinois residents rises on a daily basis. Coinciding with the demographic change is a rise in instances of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Cognitive decline in seniors is a striking problem. One of the main reasons that local families help their loved ones into nursing homes is specifically because of these issues which make it impossible for the senior to live on their own.

Understanding that these dementia issues are on the rise, it is incumbent upon long-term care facilities to take steps to provide the absolute best memory care possible to this community. It is well known that a one size fits all approach to this treatment is unacceptable. Each resident has different needs, struggles, vulnerabilities, and limitations. It is critical for caregivers to provide individualized care both to prevent harm as well as maximize the senior’s well-being.

New Dementia Care Program

Senior care is a complex issue. When discussing lawsuits related to nursing home neglect, elder financial exploitation, or other matters, it is easy to over-simplify the larger problem. Obviously, all community members deserve reasonable care that is free of mistreatment and allows them the best chance to thrive in their golden years. But it is an error to assume that anyone has a magic formula that will automatically ensure that the widespread problem disappears overnight.

Elder care includes a combination of family support, aid from professional caregivers, long-term care providers, health insurance companies, public policy-makers, and more. There are many different pieces to the puzzle, and those working on the problem appreciate that much work needs to be done in each sphere.


Long-term care is an issue that almost all Illinois residents will confront at some point in their lives–either for themselves or a loved one. Yet, many are unfamiliar with all of the aspects of the care and the challenges for the future until they are forced to consider them after a sudden health decline. Fortunately, once faced with the need, many residents fully immerse themselves in the details of long-term care, learning all about the good and bad of support services for seniors.

It is important for those who have dealt with these issues (or are working through them now) to share their perspectives to guide future change.

To help harness the knowledge of current individuals engaged with long-term care, the Consumer Voice is launching a focus group to capitalize on the experience and understandings of those family members. This input gathering process may then be used to influence lobbying and support programs at the Consumer Voice–ultimately helping people nationwide receive better, reliable care devoid of abuse or neglect.

The outcome of many civil lawsuits, including those related to nursing home abuse and neglect, hinge on procedural rules. These rules refer to the mechanics of how the justice system works. They are the nitty gritty detail about what paperwork has to be filed, timing requirements, threshold requirements before having a day in court, the process for collecting information from the opposing side, and more. This should be distinguished from the substantive rules regarding liability which refer to the specific items that must be proven to win a case.

Many community members are unfamiliar with procedural rules and may underestimate how important they are to one receiving compensation and accountability following preventable injury. Perhaps for that very reason, chronic defendants like big corporations are trying to change rules to offer more advantages for the company at the expense of the injured plaintiff. This fight is similar to that of forced arbitration: it is taking place at the federal level and many are completely unaware of the encroachment.

Possible Federal Civil Procedure Rule Changes

We frequently rail against forced arbitration clauses used in nursing home admission contracts which limit the rights of residents and their family to seek recourse following neglect and mistreatment. All Illinois families are urged to avoid these “agreements” at all costs.

But what is truly unfair about arbitration agreements? It is helpful to run down a list of a few of the aspects to the process that slant against the consumer.

Juries & Evidence

For decades the legal team at Levin & Perconti has helped families in Chicago and throughout Illinois whose loved ones were hurt while staying at a nursing home. We frequently take cases to trial, but, on more cases than not, we help facilitate a reasonable settlement between the parties that avoids the time, expense, and stress of a trial.

That is what happened in a recent matter where we reached a settlement for a family in the amount of $900,000 against a senior housing facility in the suburban Chicago area. While no two cases are identical, this matter involves a fact pattern that is far too common throughout the area. The senior resident’s injury stemmed from a fall caused by the facility’s failing to provide proper supervision and assistance.

Illinois Nursing Home Fall Case

The federal Nursing Home Reform Act covers many of the rights that nursing home residents are guaranteed. These rights are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 42- Public Health Law, Part 483.

These rights include:

The right to choose a doctor The right to receive advance information about treatment The right to be free from all kinds of nursing home abuse The right to obtain clinical records upon request The right to have notice before a room or roommate change happens The right of residents to manage their personal finances.

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