When a family member becomes elderly or disabled and can no longer take care of themselves without assistance, it can be difficult to decide whether to put them in a nursing home. The most critical factor is the health and safety of the loved one.
Another factor to consider is the financial situation of the elder. If they cannot afford in-home care or long-term care insurance does not cover in-home care, then a nursing home may be more affordable. In some cases, Medicaid will pay for part or all of the cost of nursing home care.
Most people are not aware of the rights afforded to those in nursing home care. Nursing home standards are in place to protect your loved one. These standards help ensure that elders receive the best possible care and are not mistreated in any way.
Here at Elder Law Care Center, we’ve helped hundreds of people get their affairs in order which allowed them peace of mind for the years ahead. If you are considering placing your loved one in a nursing home, it is important to do your research to ensure that the facility meets all of the necessary standards.
Below are 5 things nursing homes are not allowed to do in Massachusetts:
1. Invade your privacy
Nursing homes are not allowed to invade the elder’s privacy. Residents have the right to keep their doors closed and their mail delivered unopened. Nursing home staff also must knock and request permission to enter the resident’s room, except in an emergency.
Most nursing home residents need assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, and grooming.
To maintain the resident’s privacy during personal hygiene activities, staff can ensure the bathroom door is closed, so the resident has privacy while using the toilet. In addition, they can provide a sheet or towel to cover their body while being bathed. Lastly, they can allow the resident to perform as much of their own personal hygiene as possible.
Nursing home staff must remember that residents are still adults who deserve privacy and dignity.
2. Manage your financial affairs without your consent
There has been a recent trend of nursing homes trying to handle their patients’ finances without their consent. That is a huge red flag for patients and their families. Nursing homes are not allowed to manage residents’ financial affairs without their permission.
However, with written authorization from a resident, the facility may hold, safeguard, manage, and account for their personal funds deposited with the facility. If the nursing home manages the resident’s funds, it must establish and maintain a system that ensures a separate accounting of each resident’s funds.
The family should select a trusted loved one to monitor the elder’s finances. At a minimum, quarterly audits should be done to ensure that the nursing home is not mishandling any money.
3. Refuse to inform you about changes to your treatment plan
As a nursing home resident, you have the right to participate in all aspects of your treatment plan decisions. Residents can refuse treatments unless determined unable to provide consent under Massachusetts law.
If the elder’s condition changes or the doctor recommends a treatment change, they will be informed of the change and why it is being made. They will be given the opportunity to discuss the change and ask questions. If the resident objects to the change, they can request a meeting with the care team to discuss their concerns.
If the resident refuses medication or treatment, the nursing home facility must notify the resident or the resident’s legal representative of the consequences of such a decision and document it in their medical record. The nursing home must continue to provide other services the resident agrees to in accordance with the resident’s care plan.
4. Physically or mentally abuse patients
The right to be free from mental and physical abuse is a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, nursing home residents can be victims of abuse by the very people who are supposed to be taking care of them.
Abuse can take many forms, including physical violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and neglect. Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable because they are often elderly and frail, and they may have dementia or other cognitive impairments that make it difficult to communicate what is happening to them.
Nursing home staff must be trained to recognize the signs of abuse and to report any suspicions immediately. Residents and their families should also be aware of the signs of abuse. If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated in any way, report it immediately so that steps can be taken to protect them.
5. Prevent visitors from seeing you
Loneliness can be a big problem for nursing home residents. Family members and friends are often the only people they have to talk to. But sometimes, nursing homes can make it hard for visitors to see residents. They might have strict visiting hours, or they might not allow certain kinds of visitors, like children.
The reality is that nursing homes cannot refuse visitors during reasonable visiting hours. Visitors can include family, friends, religious groups, attorneys, and children.
Nursing homes are considered public accommodations, so they must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to provide equal access to individuals with disabilities. In the case of nursing homes, this means ensuring visitors have access to the facilities during reasonable visiting hours.
What you can do to protect your elderly loved one
When a loved one begins to need assistance with everyday tasks, it can be overwhelming to know where to turn. An experienced elder law attorney can help you understand what rights your loved one has and what options are available.
Whether your loved one is already in a nursing home, or may be shortly, don’t bear the burden of this situation on your own. At Elder Law Care Center we guide you through the complex legal system and make sure your loved one’s rights are being respected.
Get help from a professional who can ensure your loved one is safe, protected, and has the proper documentation in place. We help you protect what you have for the people you love the most in Hanover, Massachusetts, and the surrounding area. Contact us to get started today.