October Reminds Us That “Connection Matters” for Illinois Nursing Homes Residents
Every day, Illinois families bring their loved ones to nursing homes all around the state, some feeling certain and others uncertain that they will receive the high-quality care and comfort needed and their rights protected. Unfortunately, willful neglect, preventable accidents and illnesses, and abuse occur even in the most highly-rated facilities. October is a time to remind families and residents of the many rights designed to protect them from these situations.
Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect, and long-term care residents’ value. This year’s theme is “Connection Matters.” The theme emphasizes connections – to family, friends, and the community – as essential components of good health and residents’ quality of life.
Review of Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights
The law protects nursing home residents’ rights through precise language, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect, privacy, and a comprehensive plan of care with the staff. Other rights include the right to be fully informed about care and treatment options, and to file grievances, and to be supported by protections in the case of involuntary discharge or transfer.
#1. The Right to Be Fully Informed
- Available services and the charges for each service
- Facility rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights
- Address and telephone number of the State Ombudsman and state survey agency
- State survey reports and the nursing home’s plan of correction
- Advance plans of a change in rooms or roommates
- Assistance if a sensory impairment exists
- Residents have a right to receive information in a language they understand (Spanish, Braille, etc.)
#2. Right to Complain
- Present grievances to staff or any other person, without fear of reprisal and with prompt efforts by the facility to resolve those grievances
- To complain to the ombudsman program
- To file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency
#3. Right to Participate in One’s Own Care
- Receive adequate and appropriate care
- Be informed of all changes in medical condition
- Participate in their own assessment, care-planning, treatment, and discharge
- Refuse medication and treatment
- Refuse chemical and physical restraints
- Review one’s medical record
- Be free from charge for services covered by Medicaid or Medicare
#4. Right to Privacy and Confidentiality
- Private and unrestricted communication with any person of their choice
- During treatment and care of one’s personal needs
- Regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs
#5. Rights During Transfers and Discharges
- Remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge:
- (a) is necessary to meet the resident’s welfare;
- (b) is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved and s/he no longer requires nursing home care;
- (c) is needed to protect the health and safety of other residents or staff;
- (d) is required because the resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay the facility charge for an item or service provided at the resident’s request
- Receive thirty-day notice of transfer or discharge which includes the reason, effective date, location to which the resident is transferred or discharged, the right to appeal, and the name, address, and telephone number of the state long-term care ombudsman
- Safe transfer or discharge through sufficient preparation by the nursing home
#6. Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom
- To be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity
- To be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints
- To self-determination
- Security of possessions
#7. Right to Visits
- By a resident’s personal physician and representatives from the state survey agency and ombudsman programs
- By relatives, friends, and others of the residents’ choosing
- By organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services
- Residents have the right to refuse visitors
Special Note About Right to Visits Due to COVID-19 Restrictions and Protections: Because some nursing home visits are still on hold throughout Illinois, the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti have gathered several creative ideas and best practices for staying connected during the pandemic.
- Arrange an outside courtyard visit if permitted or schedule a time for a visit through a glass door or window.
- Find new ways to communicate:
- Communicate via letters and cards.
- Use technology – video chat, FaceTime, text, and email. Ask family and friends to send short video greetings that residents can watch at any time.
- Think of creative ways you can help stay connected through entertainment:
- If many residents have outward-facing windows, arrange for local musicians to perform outdoors.
- Video chat with local performers or friends, family members, and staff who have hidden talents.
- Access the many online resources for free opera and symphony performances and museum and art gallery virtual visits.
Some Illinois long-term care facilities may allow outdoor visitation for residents under certain conditions. Still, visits must be limited to two visitors at a time per resident and masks as well as social distancing of 6 feet between the resident and visitors will be enforced.
#8. Right to Make Independent Choices
- Make personal decisions, such as what to wear and how to spend free time
- Reasonable accommodation of one’s needs and preferences
- Choose a physician
- Participate in community activities, both inside and outside the nursing home
- Organize and participate in a Resident Council
- Manage one’s own financial affairs
It’s important to remember that nursing homes must meet these federal residents’ rights requirements if they participate in Medicare or Medicaid and can be held accountable if not. We encourage all caregivers, employees, family members, and residents to work together and stand for quality long-term care experiences not just in October but also at all times.
Levin & Perconti: Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
If someone you love has been subjected to poor treatment in a nursing home, let our attorneys help find the answers. Contact the skilled legal team at Levin & Perconti to discuss your concerns. Call us today at 312-332-2872 for a free consultation with one of our Chicago nursing home negligence attorneys.