Legal Rights of California Nursing Home Residents
Nursing homes should give families peace of mind over the care of their elderly loved ones. They should look out for residents’ physical, emotional and psychosocial wellness, as well as obey federal and state elder care laws. Families should not have to worry whether the nursing home or assisted living facility is breaking the law with crimes such as nursing home abuse or neglect in Sacramento. Unfortunately, many facilities break the rules and put seniors at risk. Learn the legal rights of nursing home residents in California to better protect your loved one.
The Older Americans Act
Several federal laws protect senior citizens from harm, neglect and abuse. One is the Older Americans Act. This act financially supports services that are critical for keeping seniors independent, healthy and safe. It promotes community social services tailored to the elderly through fundraising, development projects, special training and more. The passing of the Older Americans Act also established the federal Administration on Aging, which carries out grant programs related to improving elder care.
The Nursing Home Reform Act
One of the most important federal laws for the safety of the elderly is the Nursing Home Reform Act. Passed in 1987, this act helps ensure nursing home residents receive quality care. It is the Nursing Home Reform Act that gave nursing homes the legal duty to provide care that will result in the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being for residents. This act also established the federal Residents’ Bill of Rights – a list of established legal rights all nursing home residents have in the US.
- Freedom from neglect, abuse and mistreatment.
- Freedom from physical restraints.
- Privacy and treatment with dignity.
- Participation in group activities.
- Free communication.
- Self-determination and participation in one’s care plan.
- Freedom from retaliation or discrimination for complaining.
If a nursing home in California breaches any of these residents’ rights, it could face legal penalties. It could also be civilly liable for any injuries or damages the nursing home resident suffered due to the violation of rights. The Nursing Home Reform Act also lists the services nursing homes must provide to residents, along with standards of care in furnishing these services. They include pharmaceutical services, rehabilitation, nursing, dietary services and social services.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
The long-term care ombudsman program is in charge of receiving and investigating complaints or grievances by nursing home residents or on behalf of residents. Each state has its own long-term care ombudsman program to receive and respond to complaints locally. If a nursing home resident in California is facing an infraction of his or her rights, the resident can contact the local ombudsman program through the California Department of Aging. In addition to ombudsman programs, each state also has Adult Protective Services organizations to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect. Adult Protective Services often works with law enforcement to bring negligent or criminal nursing homes to justice.
California Resident Bill of Rights
In addition to the federal Bill of Rights, nursing homes in California must also abide by the state’s Residents’ Bill of rights, in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations. This Bill of Rights is a detailed list of all the policies and procedures nursing home facilities must implement to protect the rights of their residents. It is a longer list than the federal Bill of Rights, with more measures nursing homes in California must take to ensure resident safety, health and happiness.
If you or a loved one can prove a nursing home in Sacramento violated any federal or state resident rights, the nursing home could be liable for up to $500 per violation per day, plus the costs of any attorney’s fees. If the rights violation, negligence or act of abuse injured your loved one, your family could also have grounds to file a civil claim against the facility. A nursing home abuse claim could lead to compensation for the victim’s medical bills, physical pain, emotional distress, lost quality of life, out-of-pocket costs and more. Speak to a nursing home abuse lawyer in Sacramento for assistance bringing your claim.