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The Rights of Nursing Home Residents Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Know the Rights of Residents and Families

Despite the array of temporary regulatory waivers and new rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the major surges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the basic rights of nursing home residents remain consistent. Every person living in a nursing home has the right to quality care and to live in a safe, clean, and healthy environment.

Maintaining Quality of Care

In 1991, CMS completed the first set of federal nursing home regulations that nursing homes are required to follow if they want to participate in Medicare or Medicaid programs. Similarly, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued regulations that nursing homes must follow to ensure the health and safety of their residents. In essence, “Each resident shall receive and the facility shall provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychological well-being…”

To fulfill these requirements, nursing homes must be vigilant in taking steps to prevent and heal pressure/bed sores, eliminate accident hazards and supervise the residents to prevent accidents, and ensure proper nutrition and hydration of residents at all times, to name a few.

A crucial aspect in ensuring this quality of care is regular visitations by loved ones.

Utilizing Your Visitation

One of the easiest ways to utilize your visitation is to look, listen, and smell. Can you visibly see any signs of neglect or abuse (cleanliness, rapid weight loss, bruising, bed sores, etc.)? Do you hear any verbal abuse from the staff or complaints from the resident? Are there any foul odors in the resident’s room? These may seem like simple or obvious things to do, but they could mean the difference in your loved one’s health and safety.

Although in person visitation has been significantly curtailed due to the pandemic, there are still ways to monitor a nursing home resident’s condition and the quality of their care. If you are unable to visit in person:

  • Utilize any visitation methods that are available - video chats, phone calls, window visits, etc.
  • If you are the resident’s health care agent, guardian, Surrogate Decision Maker, or have the resident’s permission:
    • Ask for a copy of the care plan.
    • Ask questions about their care, medications, daily activities, etc.
    • Request to attend a care plan meeting by phone or video conference.

Remember, it is still possible to use the look and listen options with the current alternate means of visitation.

Residents’ rights to quality care and treatment are still in full force and effect. If your loved one has sustained an injury in a nursing home, you may have a case.

The Law Firm of D.F. Truhowsky is here to help. Our firm has spent decades fighting for the rights of nursing home residents and their families to receive the highest compensation possible when residents suffer injuries due to improper care and treatment. If your loved one has been injured, call (888) 400-1691 to schedule a free consultation.

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