Protecting Residents of Nursing Homes | Dreyer Boyajian LLP

What Are the Rights of Nursing Home Residents in New York?

Nursing home residents in New York have clear legal rights. These rights exist under both state and federal law.

The New York Department of Health has adopted a “bill of rights” for nursing home residents. Furthermore, federal regulations provide additional protections to residents who are beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs.

Despite the rights nursing home residents have under the law, abuse and neglect in these facilities is tragically common. If your loved one is being mistreated, the nursing home abuse lawyers at Dreyer Boyajian LLP can help.

7 Fundamental Rights of New York Nursing Home Residents

The list of rights afforded to nursing home residents in New York is extensive. The New York Department of Health has published a comprehensive overview of nursing home residents’ rights under state law on its website. Similarly, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a four-page document titled Your Rights and Protections as a Nursing Home Resident.

Here are summaries of some of the key legal rights outlined in these materials:

1. The Right to Be Treated with Dignity and Respect

All nursing home residents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. This means that residents have the right to be treated as individuals, and they are entitled to make their own decisions about how they live their lives.

In order to observe these rights, the New York Department of Health states that nursing homes must:

  • Encourage residents to participate in programs and services of their choice
  • Provide a safe, clean, and comfortable living environment
  • Provide protection from harsh and abusive treatment
  • Respect residents’ right to privacy and their right to associate with people of their choice

2. The Right to Be Free from Abuse and Neglect

There is no excuse for abuse and neglect in the nursing home setting. Unfortunately, statistics show that these are both alarmingly common.

As a nursing home resident, you should never feel threatened or in fear for your safety or sovereignty. Under no circumstances should you be left with any of your basic needs unfulfilled, either.

3. The Right to Appropriate Medical Care

The New York Department of Health and CMS both state that nursing home residents must have access to appropriate medical care at all times. Nursing home residents also have the right to be fully informed about their conditions and treatment needs in language they can understand. Nursing home residents have the right to be involved in their choice of doctors, and they have the right to participate in decisions regarding their medical care.

4. The Right to Communication and Information

Under New York and federal law, nursing home residents have the right to communicate with their friends and loved ones. This includes communicating by phone, text, and email, as well as communicating in person both inside and outside of the nursing home. While nursing homes can establish reasonable policies regarding visiting hours and residents’ leaves of absence, they cannot prevent residents from talking to loved ones in private and in-person.

In a similar vein, nursing home residents have the right to access all information regarding the nursing home’s services and charges. Residents’ questions regarding their bills should not be left unanswered. When they are, this may be a sign of elder financial abuse or financial fraud.

Read More: Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

5. The Right to Privacy and Independence

Nursing home residents are entitled to their privacy. This includes privacy in their rooms and privacy with regard to their communications. Nursing home residents are also entitled to independently manage their finances, medications, and day-to-day needs unless and until they agree to relinquish this right or a judge determines that a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary.

As listed by CMS, nursing home residents’ privacy rights include:

  • The right to keep and use personal belongings without inspection or interference
  • The right to have the nursing home protect their belongings from theft
  • The right to have private visits and private phone calls
  • The right to send and receive private mail and email messages

6. The Right to Leave

Nursing home residents in New York have the right to leave the facility. This includes the right to leave overnight to stay with friends and family. While nursing homes may enforce reasonable “leave of absence” policies, they cannot use these policies to prevent residents from leaving.

Additionally, as CMS notes, “Living in a nursing home is your choice.” If a resident no longer wishes to live in a nursing home (whether due to abuse, neglect, or other concerns), they have the right to move out (subject to any reasonable and enforceable nursing home policies).

7. The Right to Seek Help When Necessary

Finally, nursing home residents in New York have the right to seek help when necessary. In addition to the right to seek medical care and financial advice, this includes the right to speak with a lawyer.

If you have any concerns about your living situation, your finances, or the care you are receiving in your nursing home, you can – and should – speak with a lawyer right away.

Protect Your Rights – Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Today

Seniors in nursing homes and care facilities are a vulnerable population. In spite of the protections instituted by state and federal officials, abuse and neglect is alarmingly commonplace.

If you or a loved one is suffering abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Dreyer Boyajian LLP has been serving families throughout New York for over 30 years, and we are committed to protecting your rights and pursuing fair compensation for wrongdoing.

Please call Dreyer Boyajian LLP at (518) 463-7784 today for a free case review. Our nursing home abuse attorneys serve clients in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and other areas of New York.

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