A resident of a nursing home is no different than any other citizen in the United States when it comes to his or her rights and protections. Living in a nursing facility does not mean you give up your rights despite the new and oftentimes more controlled environment, as opposed to living independently. Each nursing home must inform residents of their rights and provide a written description of those legal rights. They must do so in a manner or language that the resident comprehends. Residents must be given the written description of their rights prior to admission and must acknowledge in writing that they received them.
Money is a topic addressed in a patient’s rights. According to the Federal Government, residents have the right to manage their own money or to choose someone to do if for them.
This is straightforward, but as with anything that involves money it can get complicated. Residents can deposit funds with the nursing home and ask that the nursing home hold the funds for them. Before doing so, the resident must sign a written statement authorizing the nursing home to hold the funds. A resident may also ask that the nursing home manage and account for personal funds, but the written authorization is again needed here. The nursing home must give the resident access to any bank accounts or funds that it is holding for the resident. Residents may take advantage of this service, but they are not required to deposit personal funds with the nursing home.
If a resident intends to deposit money into an account with the nursing home, any money over $50 must be deposited into a separate account from the nursing home’s account. This account may accrue interest as a regular account would and the nursing home must have a system in place that will ensure full and accurate accounting of the resident’s funds. Commingling one resident’s money with another resident’s money or the nursing home’s funds is strictly prohibited.
The nursing home must have an accounting system in place to handle both the residents’ finances and the facilities. The nursing home may combine accounts as long as it is able to account for each resident’s money separately and provide financial statements to the residents or their legal representatives.
In the event that a resident with a fund with the nursing home dies, the facility must return the funds to the person or legal entity handling the deceased person’s estate. The facility must do so along with an accurate accounting of the fund within 30 days of the person’s death.
Money makes people do crazy things. There are countless examples of individuals in all professions getting into trouble for mishandling or commingling client or business funds with personal funds. With a nursing home, there might be a large number of residents who all deposit money into some type of account managed by the home. All of the sudden, there is a lot of money floating around in these accounts. The situation is ripe for fraud or outright robbery. Instances of nursing home physical abuse or neglect are well publicized and rightfully so, but defrauding residents out of their money is just as damaging to the person. This is why it is crucial to check every financial statement for accuracy. Residents or their representatives do not need to let a single statement period go by without checking the balance on the account.
It is important for loved ones or family members of a nursing home resident to provide help where needed to keep track of all finances handled by the nursing home.
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