Nursing Home Residents Have Rights
Being in a nursing home in North Carolina does not mean you lose your rights. You have the same rights as everyone else. North Carolina has a bill of rights that covers everyone. Many people do not realize that under federal law, nursing home residents are protected.
Living in a nursing home does not make you patient, it makes you a resident. The nursing home is your home which means you enjoy the rights that any resident enjoys in their home. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents do not realize that they have the right to advocate for themselves because of disabilities.
Understanding your rights as a resident in a North Carolina nursing home is a must. If you or your loved one is living in a nursing home, getting to know your rights can help you to ensure you are being treated fairly and your rights are not being violated.
The Nursing Home’s Responsibility
The nursing home has certain responsibilities to its residents. They are bound by law to provide the care that the residents need to function at the highest level and enjoy the best quality of life possible. Nursing homes are also required by law to:
- Only admit as many residents as they can safely provide housing and care for
- Allow residents to practice their own religious faith and summon a clergyman of that faith if requested to do so
- Not restrain any resident without the express written orders of the attending physician to help keep the resident from self-harm
- Disburse medications as prescribed by the attending physician and not used as a punishment tool or withheld from the resident or given in excess amounts to control the resident
- Comply with all North Carolina state laws
A nursing home cannot discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or religious belief. If an applicant is denied entry into a nursing home the nursing home has to advise the applicant in writing as to why they were denied.
NC General Statutes – Chapter 131E Article 6 governs North Carolina nursing home responsibilities. It is important to review these laws to ensure that you or your loved one is getting the care that they deserve.
Residents Rights in NC Nursing Homes
As a resident in a nursing home, you have inalienable rights that are protected by both North Carolina state law and federal laws. Those rights include:
- The right to privacy. You have the right to have private phone conversations, receive mail, close doors, close blinds, close shades, close windows, as you see fit. You also have the right to bring your belongings from home and the staff is tasked with helping you to protect those belongings.
- The right to autonomy. That means that no one can force you to go to bed at a certain time or get up at a certain time. You can eat what you choose outside of mealtimes, decide what you will be wearing, choose what snacks you eat, and decide how you will spend your time.
- You have the right to choose what you eat. The nursing home has to offer meal selections based on different dietary requirements, religious beliefs, and preferences. Main meals should come with options that you can choose from.
- You have the right to religious freedom and can leave the nursing home when you choose to attend religious services, meet with friends, and socialize how you want.
- You have the right to participate in the planning of your care. You have the right to refuse treatment.
- You have the right to manage your own financial affairs and to keep your banking information and other financial information private. You do not have to share financial information with anyone.
- You have the right to not be restrained unless so ordered by a physician and that is only for a limited amount of time.
- You cannot be moved to another room or a different setting without notice in writing and with the opportunity to appeal the decision.
Most nursing homes and adult living arrangements in North Carolina deliver the living experience that seniors thrive in, but there are some places that need a reminder of the resident’s rights There are steps that you can take if you feel like you or your loved one’s rights have been violated.
Your First Step If There is a Problem
The main goal is to make sure that the resident is safe in the current setting if you suspect abuse consider contacting an NC elder law attorney and having the resident moved from the situation. In cases of suspected abuse, having conversations about the abuse and leaving the resident where they are is not an option. The resident can be at great risk in that situation.
In cases where the issue is not suspected abuse resolving a problem or a suspected violation of the resident’s rights can be as simple as addressing the issue with the staff member. If you cannot get any resolution from having a frank conversation with the staff member, go up the chain.
Speak with the staff member’s manager. If you are not satisfied with the resolution, write a formal complaint to the nursing home’s administrator, and request a reply in writing but always keep in mind that the resident is living there and their safety has to be a priority.
In the event you cannot reach a resolution with the nursing home directly, you can contact the North Carolina Ombudsmen at the Department of Health and Human Services for your area. They specialize in advocating for adults in long term care facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Having a legal team that specializes in elder law can ensure that you or your loved one’s rights are protected. If you or your loved one is having problems with a nursing home, we can help. Contact our Greensboro law office today and get the legal support you need to protect your rights.