Understanding Your Loved One’s Rights
Trusting the care of a loved one in a nursing home or assisted-living facility can be a difficult but necessary decision for many families. Unfortunately, the process can also be confusing. For this reason, it is important to understand the rights and protections afforded by law to residents of nursing homes.
Georgia’s Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities
In addition to the protections afforded by federal law, the State of Georgia has adopted a “Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities.” See O.C.G.A. §§ 31-8-100 to 31-8-127. The purpose of this law is to “preserve the dignity and personal integrity” of nursing-home residents through “the recognition and declaration of rights safeguarding against encroachments upon each resident’s need for self-determination.” O.C.G.A. § 31-8-101. This includes, among other things, the right to “live within the least restrictive environment possible” and retain “individuality and personal freedom.” Id. This Bill of Rights protects anyone who is receiving treatment or care from a skilled nursing home, an intermediate-care home, or a long-term care facility in the State of Georgia. O.C.G.A. § 31-8-102(3).
Specific Rights Granted by Georgia Law to Residents of Nursing Homes
Georgia’s Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities provides the following rights and protections to your loved one:
- Notification: Residents have the right to be notified of their rights under the law orally and in writing, to have those rights explained, and to be made aware of the grievance and enforcement provisions available under the law (O.C.G.A. §31-8-104);
- Information: Residents have the right to receive information about a facility’s basic rates and a written statement of all facility services and related charges, as well as information relating to the facility’s name and business address and the name of the facility’s administrator. Residents also have the right to access a facility’s policies and procedures, as well as the right to receive copies of their medical records (O.C.G.A. § 31-8-106);
- Nondiscriminatory Admission: Residents and applicants for residency in a nursing home have the right to nondiscriminatory admission, including, under most circumstances, the right to be free from discrimination by means of the facility’s refusal to admit an applicant–or allow continued residency–on the basis of the resident or applicant’s mental or physical disability (O.C.G.A. §31-8-107);
- Appropriate Medical Care and Choice of Physician: Residents have the right to adequate and appropriate care, treatment, and services provided with reasonable care and skill in recognition of the resident’s personal dignity, including the right to be involved in care decisions and make choices regarding treating physicians (O.C.G.A. §31-8-108);
- Freedom From Restraint: Residents have the right to be free from actual or threatened physical restraints, isolation, or restrictions on mobility within or outside the facility grounds, including the use of drugs to limit mobility, except to the minimum extent necessary to protect the resident or others from immediate injury (O.C.G.A. §31-8-109);
- Choice Regarding Pharmacist: Residents have the right to select the pharmacy or pharmacist of their choice for pharmaceutical supplies and services not provided by the facility as a part of the basic rate (O.C.G.A. §31-8-110);
- Exercising Rights of Citizenship: Residents have the right to exercise all of their rights as citizens, including the right to practice their religion or refrain from religious practice, the right to associate, meet, and communicate privately with persons of their choice, and the right to participate—inside or outside of the facility—in social, family, religious, and community group activities (O.C.G.A. §31-8-111);
- Personal Choice: Residents have the right to personal choice, including the right to rise and retire at the time of their choice and the right to be free from a duty to perform services for the facility (O.C.G.A. §31-8-112);
- Personal Property: Residents have the right to retain personal property in their immediate living quarters (O.C.G.A. §31-8-113)
- Privacy: Residents have the right to privacy, including the right to private visits with their spouse and the right to unimpeded, private, and uncensored communication with any one of their choices by mail, public telephone, and visitation (O.C.G.A. §31-8-114);
- Management of Money: Residents have the right to manage their own money and fiscal affairs themselves or through their guardian, as applicable (O.C.G.A. §31-8-115);
- Resident’s Councils: Residents have the right to be notified of and participate in resident’s councils (C.G.A. §31-8-121);
- Grievances and Hearings: Residents have the right to avail themselves of grievance procedures and administrative hearings (O.C.G.A. §§31-8-124 through 125).
Protecting Your Loved One’s Rights
This is not an exhaustive list of the rights provided by law to nursing-home residents, and some statutory exceptions may apply to the rights listed above. The advice of an attorney may be necessary to fully advise of you of loved one’s rights under federal and state law. If you feel that your loved one’s rights have been violated by a nursing home, Eric J. Hertz, P.C. strives to guard and enforce those rights on behalf of residents of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted-living facilities, residential care facilities, and long-term care facilities.
Eric J. Hertz, P.C.
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