I have worked in Nursing Homes in Missouri for a good part of my working life. I was always employed as a Nurse Assistant and the things I encountered were enough to horrify any person. As a Senior you should have the right to live your life as you choose. You worked hard all your life to get to this point . What exactly is this point? Read on and I will breakdown each right as specified in the Missouri Omnibus Nursing Home Act of 1979 and the Federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. These rights will be found at any licenced Nusing Home Facility in the state of Missouri. This right by right review is as seen through the eyes of a Nurse Assistant who’s charge was to provide daily and ongoing care to the seniors of our state.
- You will be informed (at the time of admission to the facility and periodically during your stay) orally and in writing of your rights and responsibilities as a resident. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This is not always true. In some cases , yes the admitting person(s) will read your rights to you. Once you are admitted it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever read those rights to you again.
This rings true for the most part. The reason this holds true is because if they do not inform you ahead of time that leaves them open for lawsuit. Just like most companies , they can charge you for it but without informed consent ahead of time you are not liable to pay for such services.
You will be informed of the services available and related charges, including protection of personal funds if held by the facility, and all services not covered in the facility’s daily rate. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
- You may purchase or rent goods or services not included in the facility rate from a provider of your choice.
This depends upon which goods and services you are wanting to purchase or rent. You will find that while they can not legally stop you from doing such they will try to discourage you from doing so if it will interfere with their making choices for you. Unfortunalty, unless you put your foot down from day one they will always attempt to decide what is best for you. Always claiming , of course, that with old age come senality – not always true.
- You will receive notice before room or roommate changes are made. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
In some homes you will recieve notice , depending on your senality level. I ,however, have witnessed on many occasions where this was never done. Roommates may appear overnight or through lunch. Never be surprised to come to your room from lunch to find your things moved about and a roommate to have appeared from thin air. Empty beds mean no money being produced, the quicker the beds can be filled the more money the home makes.
- You may examine results of facility inspections including plans of correction. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
Once again , in some homes they actually follow the rules and post these inspection results for you to view. Most homes fail these inspections at least once for one reason or another. Upon failing the last thing they want is for you to see WHY. Just an interesting point here, most of the time they fail in the “privacy” and “respect” portion – at least once.
- You have the right to receive service with reasonable accommodation of your individual needs and preferences except when your health and safety or that of other residents would be endangered. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
Uniform lifestyle is the words that come to mind here. Generally speaking your individual needs and preferances get in the way of providing a uniform fashion of care. Everyone is treated the same and uses all the same devices. This makes training in the facilities easier and more cost effective for them. Your needs are not generally thought of when it comes down to money. Just a tip, If you do want this right to apply to you either yourself or your family needs to provide the things you want AND make sure it is used.
- You have the right to not have your life regulated beyond what is necessary in providing resident services. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
I have never seen a right so completely violated in all of my years working in nursing facilities. Once you enter the world that is a Nursing Home your life becomes nothing but regulation. If you are a smoker , you have designated smoke times(three times a day) and you are allowed two cigerettes each session. In a Nursing Home they plan all of your activities and outings, unless your family steps in. Generally speaking , most if not all activities are planned to target ALL residents at once. “Bedtime” is usually 8 or 9 PM , this goes for all residents. Bathroom breaks tend to be scheduled so as to make the work of the Nurse Aides easier.
- You have the right to retain your personal possessions as space permits. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
True , you are allowed to bring in your personal possesions. There is however a very limited amount of space to house your possesions. This I find alarmingly sad.
- You have the right to be informed of all aspects of your care, to choose your own personal physician, to participate in planning your care and treatment, including any changes in care and treatment. You have the right to refuse treatment and to be informed of the consequences of such refusal. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
As far as being a part of your medical decisions, not likely. The nurses and doctors coordinate your care and in most cases without your input at all. Refusing treatment? you can refuse treatment but in a majority of cases your treatment will be forced upon you no matter what you say.
- You shall be encouraged and assisted throughout your stay to exercise your rights. You have the right to voice complaints and recommend changes regarding personal care, behavior of other residents, conditions in the facility, or other unmet needs or expectations and to expect prompt efforts will be made to address complaints. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This is the farthest thing from the truth. You are free at anytime to pick up the phone and hotline the facility for abuse but as for anything else stated above , it mostly stands to be false. You may voice your complaints , though more often than not it will fall upon deaf ears.
- You have a right to privacy for visits with your spouse and may share a room with your spouse if you are both residents and both agree to the cohabitation. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This is true for the most part. I have personally only seen one incident in my years of working in Nursing Homes where the hussband and wife had no choice but to be seperated. This seperation was only for the welfare of the husband.
- You have the right to privacy and respect regarding accommodations, personal care, medical treatment, written and telephone communications and visits with other individuals. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
Privacy is one big joke in Nursing Homes. You should not be surprised to find someone dressing you with the door wide open or showering you with another resident or 3 other Aides right there with you. I have found that once you are in a Nursing Home your privacy goes out the window. Your records are read by anyone and everyone. Your medical diagnoses are discussed in public for other residents to hear. If you are incontinent it is usually broadcasted to anyone in the same room as you that you need to be “changed” . The practices that are in effect now in Nursing Homes is just sickening.
- All information related to your medical, personal, social, or financial affairs will be kept confidential. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This is not true. As I stated above once you are in a Nursing Home your affairs become public knowledge. Don’t get me wrong , it is not always on purpose.Sometimes things are spoken about when they shouldn’t be.
- You may be discharged or transferred only for medical reasons, for your own welfare or that of others, or for nonpayment. Pre-transfer and pre-discharge notices must be made at least 30 days in advance. Written notices must go to the resident, family member or legal representative or long-term care ombudsman if there is no family and include reasons for the action, the right to appeal and information on how to contact the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The facility must assist you in arranging other accommodations. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This statement holds true. The Nursing Homes really have no way around this.
- You have the right to participate in resident councils and your family has the right to meet together in the facility with families of other residents. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
This right is also upheld. I can not say how far the Resident Council can go to changing things but Nursing Homes do offer this their clients. It is sad to say , but alot of times your family has more rights than you do concerning the Nursing Home.
- You may associate and communicate privately with persons of your choice. You may have free access to an ombudsman, your individual physician, or any representative of the Federal Government.
Again , Nursing Homes have no choice but to uphold this right. It is every person’s god given right.
- You have the right to have appropriate activities for your participation and may engage in social, religious and community activities of your choice. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
Alright , if you choose to have these activities outside the facility you are free to do so . in most cases you are in charge of your transportation to and from these activities. Some Homes arrange that for you. If you are participating within the Nursing Home then you have to go along with what is scheduled.
- You have the right to be free from physical or mental abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion and any physical or chemical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or for convenience of the staff. Restraints may not be used except under the direction of a physician and only to treat your medical symptoms. (http://www.dhss.mo.gov/NursingHomes/SelectNH.html#question7)
You do have the “right” to this however it does not happen that way. I am not saying that every single Nursing Home will be abusive but there are a great many that are. Abuse can be not giving you all of the rights outlined above. I have worked in many Nursing Homes where abuse is an issue, whether it be mental , physical , emotional or verbal. nine times out of ten abuse is an issue. No one deserves to be treated that way.
These are the rights as defined by the state of Missouri. I am not here to demean Nursing Homes , I am just stating the facts as I and many others have seen them. For all the years I worked at Nursing Homes I always quit because I could not stand to see our elderly people treated the way they were. No matter how many times I or anyone else reported abuse, neglect and the taking of a residents rights nothing was ever done about it.
There are people who do care about our elderly , such as myself , and take pride in keeping thier sacred rights safe. Those are the people that Nursing Homes should strive to employ. Unfortunatly the problem lies in keeping staffed. Nursing Homes get into a bind and hire the first person who comes in off the street and puts them to work. This results in poor quality hiring and in the end abuse to our elderly. It takes a special kind of person to care for someone who has cared for themselves thier whole life. It takes a compassionate heart and a strong mind.