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Residents Rights: Don’t Ignore Them!

By Heather Brown
September 23, 2016

The best assisted living facilities are owned and operated by dedicated administrators and caregivers. Creating a comfortable living environment requires commitment, time, and knowledge. Every state has their own requirements and guidelines on how to properly start, manage, and provide for your residents. One of the common concepts in all states is your residents have rights.

Resident Rights Law

Resident’s rights took their place in law in 1987 under The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). The original law was established for facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. Its sole purpose is to ensure that residents receive the highest possible care. To achieve this, the act includes a Resident’s Bill of Rights that addresses the rights residents are entitled to.

Over time residents rights became a highlight in state government agencies and expanded to include all long-term care options including assisted living facilities.

Common Rights

States have their own unique definition of required resident’s rights. Here are 20 common ones you need to implement in your assisted living facility.

  1. Opportunity to live in an environment promoting individual dignity, privacy, and respect.
  2. To be treated in a kind manner.
  3. To be free of all forms of abuse including mental, verbal, physical, and spiritual.
  4. Freedom from restraints.
  5. To participate in determining their individual care plan.
  6. To choose their own physician.
  7. To refuse or accept medications after all side-effects and reasons for taking them are explained.
  8. To have changes in medical conditions and needs thoroughly explained in understandable terms.
  9. To keep personal belongings.
  10. To wear personal clothing.
  11. To communicate freely and privately with family and friends outside of the home – phone, e-mail, social media, and letters.
  12. To receive visitors during suitable hours.
  13. To participate in activities of their choosing – daily resident activities, church, and other social events.
  14. To leave at their own will if they are physically able.
  15. To express concerns and request changes to their daily care.
  16. To be notified in writing of any substantial changes – roommate, discharge, activity cancellations.
  17. To be able to move freely throughout resident areas.
  18. To review all personal and resident file information.
  19. To fully control their finances or appoint a POA to take care of.
  20. To retain their constitutional and civil rights.

The Importance

Outside of resident rights being a state requirement, implementing and promoting resident rights offers many benefits to you and your residents. They cultivate a solid relationship built on trust. Residents enter assisted living facilities for various reasons – medical conditions or the desire to no longer live alone. Residents don’t move into a facility to have their everyday rights taken from them. During the instances where moves are forced upon residents – knowing they maintain their rights gives them trust in you, your staff, and your facility.

The rights listed here are not all-inclusive. Some of these common rights need to be tweaked depending on the type of residents you care for on. To gain a full understanding of resident rights in your state, contact your local licensing authority.

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