New Jersey not only has federal law protections for nursing home residents but they have also codified a state law protecting certain residents’ rights. New Jersey’s Residents’ Bill of Rights includes a variety of protections for nursing home residents. The Bill of Rights includes the following important rights:
· To be valued as an individual, to be treated with dignity and respect in full recognition of your self worth;
· To be cared for in a manner that enhances the residents’ quality of life, free from humiliation, harassment or threats;
· To be free from physical, sexual, mental, verbal abuse and financial exploitation;
· To receive equal access to quality care;
· To be told in advance about care and treatment, including all risks and benefits;
· To receive personal privacy during care and treatment;
· Confidentiality concerning your personal and medical information;
· To participate in the planning of your care and services;
· To accept or refuse care and treatment;
· To be offered choices and allowed to make decisions important to you;
· To voice grievances or complaints about care or services without discrimination or reprisal;
· To expect the facility to promptly investigate and try to resolve your concerns.
The above does not comprise the full listing of rights included in the New Jersey Bill of Residents’ Rights. Residents of nursing homes do not give up their rights when they enter a nursing home. In fact, they are given a multitude of rights. When a resident is admitted to a nursing home, the nursing home is required to provide the resident and/or their family with a copy of the Resident’s Bill of Rights. The problem arises when the resident or a loved one are unable to enforce these rights.
Nursing home abuse and neglect are severely underreported. There may be numerous reasons for this: patients may have a diminished memory; family members may not be able to substantiate their fears; residents or their family may be fearful of reprisals if they report the abuse and/or neglect. If you feel that your rights or the rights of a loved one have been denied by a nursing home, you should report it. If these actions are not investigated and remedied, they will continue. It is important to remember that residents of a nursing home have rights that should not be denied or infringed upon. Even though the New Jersey Residents’ Bill of Rights is a positive framework to protect our nursing home residents, the Bill is ineffective if we do not insist that caregivers be required to uphold and maintain these rights.