Like all states, nursing homes assisted living homes, and other long-term care facilities in New Jersey are regulated and controlled by federal and state laws. Residents of these places have express rights, and the places in which they live have specific duties and obligations. Despite all of the rules, regulations, and oversight of New Jersey nursing homes, abuse and neglect still occur at an alarming rate. Some studies suggest that nearly 50% of the elderly and dependent adults in our country face some type of abuse.
Understanding the rights and obligations associated with nursing home living is essential for residents and their loved ones. It is one of the best ways to protect some of our most vulnerable community members from mistreatment at the hands of those entrusted with their care.
Legislature Requires Nursing Homes in New Jersey to Adhere to a Standard of Care
There are many laws governing nursing homes in New Jersey, some of which aim to reduce the amount of abuse and neglect that occurs. The rules require nursing homes to maintain a high standard of care and provide many rights to patients.
The New Jersey Legislature has enacted several laws that address the standard of care in nursing homes. The purpose of these laws is to reduce the amount of elder abuse in New Jersey by requiring nursing homes to maintain a high standard of care. Also, these laws empower nursing home residents with many rights.
Essential nursing home laws in New Jersey designed to keep residents safe include:
- Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights
- Standards for Licensure of Long-Term Care Facilities
- General Licensure Procedures and Enforcement of Licensure Regulations
Under New Jersey laws, nursing homes and their employees must have all proper certifications, training, and licenses to work at a facility. The owners, operators, and administrators of the nursing home must develop, implement, and enforce policies and procedures that adhere to the standard of care. They must also train and educate the staff to do the same.
When somewhere along the line, someone fails to act in accordance with the standards such as neglecting, abusing, or injuring a nursing home resident, the nursing home may be held liable for negligence. If so, the facility may owe the victim or the victim’s family monetary compensation.
What Obligations Do Nursing Homes in New Jersey Owe to Their Residents?
In 1987 Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act. The act establishes a national standard of care nursing homes in the US.
The federal Nursing Home Reform Act requires any nursing home that receives federal money (which is most) must comply with the following requirements:
- Periodically evaluate and assess the conditions and needs of each resident
- Create a care plan for each resident
- Provide social, nursing, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical, and dietary services
- Retain a social worker if the facility has 120 beds or more
Abuse or neglect that causes injuries undermines these requirements and could put a nursing home at risk of losing its license and a civil lawsuit for monetary damages.
How do New Jersey Nursing Homes Violate Residents’ Rights?
The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act also established a bill of rights for nursing home residents in New Jersey and elsewhere in the country. Rights of nursing home residents must receive protection as they are vulnerable to exploitation. Some fundamental rights include retaining control over their finances, medical care, and privacy. The bill of rights bestows upon nursing home residents the right to:
- Be free from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment
- Be free from the use of physical restraints
- Maintain Privacy
- receive accommodation of their physical, psychological, medical and social needs
- Engage in social activities
- Receive treatment that shows respect
- Make complaints without fear of repercussions
- Communicate freely
- Make decisions about their medical care or other aspects of their care plans
- Exercise self-determination
Understanding Your Rights Is Essential to Protecting Them
When residents of nursing homes in New Jersey face abuse or neglect, it is often up to family members or other visitors to advocate for them. Elderly patients in homes might have physical limitations or other ailments that make it difficult for them to recognize when abuse is taking place. Some patients may assume the conduct is “normal” and fail to alert someone. Others may simply be too afraid to speak up.
If you know that your loved one has the right to live in a nursing home in New Jersey that is safe and free from abuse, neglect, discrimination and more, you can be on alert for signs that indicate the nursing home is not fulfilling its duties.
What are the signs that a nursing home resident in New Jersey is being abused or neglected? There are many. Look for:
- Unexplained bruises which may be from excessive falling or hitting
- Bedsores which can indicate that your loved one is not being moved and is being neglected
- Extreme agitation, fear, anxiety, depression which may be suggestive of emotional neglect, psychological abuse, or sexual abuse.
- Increased isolation or withdrawal could indicate multiple forms of abuse
- Unusual lethargy which could indicate chemical restraint or medication mistakes
- Sudden spending sprees, irregularities in finances could be signs of financial exploitation
- Unexplained changes in the dosage or types of medications
- Soiled linens or clothing which is often the first signs of neglect or abuse
- Dehydration or malnutrition, which could mean your loved one is being deprived of food and water.
Be sure to report suspected abuse to the administrators of the nursing home. Your priority should be making sure you or your family member is safe and getting any needed medical attention. After that, consider speaking with Alonso Krangle, LLP about a New Jersey nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit.
Get an Evaluation of Your New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Claim Today
Despite national and statewide regulations against nursing home abuse in New Jersey, facilities are regularly found in noncompliance with these laws. Residents continue to be abused neglected by their caregivers.
If you or someone in your family suspects there has been negligence, or someone has suffered abuse or neglect while living in a nursing home in New Jersey, call Alonso Krangle, LLP today. We will gladly provide you with a free evaluation of your nursing home abuse case. You can reach us our experienced New Jersey nursing home lawyer at [phone_num].