Quality of Life

One of the rights addressed in the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights relates to the Quality of Life in the nursing home. An individual’s quality of life should not be diminished because he or she resides in a nursing home. Now, an individual’s opportunities to engage in all of the typical social activities in the community might decline because of health related issues, but the individual must still be permitted to engage in activities within the nursing home and community that he or she is medically and financially able to engage in.xmasinnursinghome.jpg

There are a couple of specific clauses addressing the quality of life in nursing home:

A resident must be allowed to choose and participate in activities that he or she likes provided that the activities are part of his or her plan of care. (HSC 1599.1(d): 42CFR 483.15(b)(1). Clearly the nursing home medical staff will have a say in which activities a resident participates in especially if the activities involve physical activity. The nursing home has a duty to care for the residents and ensure their safety so there is some limitation on activities. However, residents cannot be forced to engage in activities that they do not wish to engage in.

Residents have the right to participate in social, religious, and community activities. (22CCR§72527(a)(14): 42CFR 483.10(b)(2)(d). This one again is subject to any medical limitations that might affect a resident. This one is also read in conjunction with the first clause. Residents can choose whether or not to engage in social, community or religious activities and if they do choose to engage in one or all of these types of activities then the resident chooses which specific activities to take part in. The nursing home does not tell them what they must like or dislike.

Residents can register and vote in local, state and national elections. (22CCR§72527(a)(7): 42CFR 483.10(a)(1). This clause is pretty self explanatory. Get out the vote!

Residents must be able to voice any complaints or grievances without fear of retaliation. The nursing home must also give residents instructions on how to file a complaint with the facility and the Department of Health and Services’ Licensing and Certification Office. (22CCR§72527(a)(7): HSC 1599.2(c); 42 CFR 483.10(b)(7)(iv); 42CFR 483.10(f)(1). This clause is especially important for residents. If issues or incidents go unreported because of fear of retaliation, nursing home abuse and neglect will only get worse and lead to additional instances of injury or possibly death. Residents must be aware of the process to file a complaint and must not be deterred from doing so. A complaint might be something simple that leads to a small but meaningful improvement for the residents or it might uncover a more serious and widespread problem within the home. Both complaints she be handled appropriately.

And finally residents must be able to organize and participate in resident groups. Families of residents must also be permitted to organize and participate in such activities. (22 CCR §72527(a)(13),(14); 42CFR 483.15(c)(1). This clause, again, works in conjunction with the first two clauses regarding the right to participate and participate in activities that a resident likes. Participating in resident groups helps to fill in the gaps left by social activities engaged in before moving to a nursing home. It is very important that residents try to stay engaged with fellow residents to maintain a high quality of life.

It is important that residents are allowed to do everything (within reason both medically and logically) to ensure that their quality of life does not suffer while living in a nursing home. Nursing homes should be places of comfort and care for residents; not cold and lifeless institutions.

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[Image courtesy of Geograph]