Thank you for your question!
As I always say when I speak to families about nursing home placement for residential care, “No one ever dreams of getting older and living in a nursing home.” However, nursing home level of care is the reality for many of our loved ones for a variety of reasons. The difficult decision may be financial, care needs based, or due to other circumstances – but, regardless, it’s ideally not the reality that anyone wants for their loved one.
There are a variety of standards that a resident and their family should expect involving care within a nursing home. The primary focus of all standards should be on the holistic needs of the resident – which are protected at their core through the GA Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. This information can be found as a PDF at: https://dch.georgia.gov/sites/dch.georgia.gov/files/related_files/document/Rule_111-8-50_February_2013.pdf
Basically, their rights are summarized as:
- Civil, personal, and property rights of person (such as protection of one’s personal and medical privacy, maintained ability to vote, treatment with dignity/respect without discrimination) This also includes an ability to make choices regarding one’s day – such as when to wake, who to have for personal visits, and the ability to use personal belongings.
- Awareness of, participation in, and receiving of adequate medical care appropriate to one’s medical and psychiatric conditions
- Objection to involuntary discharge or transfer – and to be given proper notice of this – as well as one’s ability to voluntarily discharge from a facility
- Freedom from isolation and physical or chemical restraint – unless in the immediate protection of the resident or other residents
- One’s ability to voice grievances, participate in family council meetings, and speak to the ombudsman all without fear of punishment or retribution
If you feel that your loved one’s rights are not being upheld or care is inadequate for their presenting needs – it is first important to follow the discussion and grievance procedures within the nursing home where you loved one lives. A great point of contact for this would be to start with the person acting in the role of Social Services or Nursing management in order to facilitate communication within the various disciplines of care and shifts within the facility.
If this is not successful, it may also require discussion with the Ombudsman – which is a state-appointed advocate to investigate the concerns or complaints of nursing home residents. They can assist in facilitating further (and hopefully more productive) conversations with the facility staff regarding the issues. It may also be important to hire an additional advocate (like an Aging Life Care™ Manager) to assist in finding creative and realistic solutions to the presenting issues and to further support the resident and their caregivers throughout the placement.
In extreme cases or those with increased risk, it will be necessary to speak to any parties above for immediate solutions and reduction of risk. However, it may also be determined necessary to file a complaint with the Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation through the Georgia Department of Community Health or speak to a malpractice attorney specializing in Nursing Home litigation.
Wishing the best to you and yours! Lisa