What are the Rights of a Nursing Home Resident?
Under New Jersey law, nursing home residents have certain rights. The purpose of the NHRRA is to protect a resident’s rights and provide a cause of action if any of those rights are violated. These rights are commonly known as “The Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights” and provide that every resident of a nursing home shall:
a. Have the right to manage his own financial affairs unless he or his guardian authorizes the administrator of the nursing home to manage such resident’s financial affairs. Such authorization shall be in writing and shall be attested by a witness that is unconnected with the nursing home, its operations, its staff personnel and the administrator thereof, in any manner whatsoever.
b. Have the right to wear his own clothing. If clothing is provided to the resident by the nursing home, it shall be of a proper fit.
c. Have the right to retain and use his personal property in his immediate living quarters, unless the nursing home can demonstrate that it is unsafe or impractical to do so.
d. Have the right to receive and send unopened correspondence and, upon request, to obtain assistance in the reading and writing of such correspondence.
e. Have the right to unaccompanied access to a telephone at a reasonable hour, including the right to a private phone at the resident’s expense.
f. Have the right to privacy.
g. Have the right to retain the services of his own personal physician at his own expense or under a health care plan. Every resident shall have the right to obtain from his own physician or the physician attached to the nursing home complete and current information concerning his medical diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in terms and language the resident can reasonably be expected to understand, except when the physician deems it medically inadvisable to give such information to the resident and records the reason for such decision in the resident’s medical record. In such a case, the physician shall inform the resident’s next-of-kin or guardian. The resident shall be afforded the opportunity to participate in the planning of his total care and medical treatment to the extent that his condition permits. A resident shall have the right to refuse treatment. A resident shall have the right to refuse to participate in experimental research, but if he chooses to participate, his informed written consent must be obtained. Every resident shall have the right to confidentiality and privacy concerning his medical condition and treatment, except that records concerning said medical condition and treatment may be disclosed to another nursing home or health care facility on transfer, or as required by law or third-party payment contracts.
h. Have the right to unrestricted communication, including personal visitation with any persons of his choice, at any reasonable hour.
i. Have the right to present grievances on behalf of himself or others to the nursing home administrator, State governmental agencies or other persons without threat of discharge or reprisal in any form or manner whatsoever. The administrator shall provide all residents or their guardians with the name, address, and telephone number of the appropriate State governmental office where complaints may be lodged. Such telephone number shall be posted in a conspicuous place near every public telephone in the nursing home.
j. Have the right to a safe and decent living environment and considerate and respectful care that recognizes the dignity and individuality of the resident, including the right to expect and receive appropriate assessment, management and treatment of pain as an integral component of that person’s care consistent with sound nursing and medical practices.
k. Have the right to refuse to perform services for the nursing home that are not included for therapeutic purposes in his or her plan of care as recorded in his or her medical record by his or her physician.
l. Have the right to reasonable opportunity for interaction with members of the opposite sex. If married, the resident shall enjoy reasonable privacy in visits by his spouse and, if both are residents of the nursing home, they shall be afforded the opportunity, where feasible, to share a room, unless medically inadvisable.
m. Not be deprived of any constitutional, civil or legal right solely by reason of admission to a nursing home.
n. Have the right to receive, upon request, food that meets the resident’s religious dietary requirements, provided that the request is made prior to or upon admission to the nursing home, and that resident agrees to pay for any additional cost if not a Medicaid recipient. N.J. S. A. 30:13-5.
If you believe you or a family member may have cause of action due to violations of resident’s rights, please contact one of our experienced attorneys for a consultation. Call us today at 908-282-3814.