Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are suffering due to the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Seniors are at high risk of contracting the disease from other seniors, from visitors, from vendors, and from the staff. All nursing working home workers are also at high risk. The dangers of death are due to the residents old age, other health problems, and the close proximity of nursing home residents to each other.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has provided a list of answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and long-term care facilities. A few of these Q and As include:
- Q: What is being done to protect long term care (LTC) residents from COVID-19? LTC administrators should “restrict visits, cancel group activities, shut down dining rooms and screen residents and staff for fevers and respiratory diseases.”
- Q: Where can I find information about LTC facility outbreaks? Information about confirmed cases and deaths (from January 24,2020) in long-term care facilities is posted here.
- Q: Are LTC facilities legally required to notify residents, family, or staff of COVID-19 cases? The next of kin or guardians of the resident, the residents themselves, and the staff must be notified if someone living in or working in the facility is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Nursing home bill of rights
All residents of nursing homes which receive Medicare funds are entitled to be informed of their legal rights. Most nursing homes are subject to this requirement because most nursing homes send bills to Medicare. The rights of the residents include the right to
- Be treated with respect – including deciding when to sleep, rise, and eat
- Participate in activities
- Be free from discrimination – based on race, color, disability, age national origin, or religion
- Be free from abuse and neglect – including physical, mental, or sexual abuse and the right to report abuse to “the nursing home, your family, your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or State Survey Agency”
- Be free from restraints – nursing homes shouldn’t use drugs or physical restraints to discipline residents
- Make complaints – to anyone without fear of punishment
- Get proper medical care including being fully informed about the resident’s health conditions and medications, choosing their own physicians, accessing medical records and reports, and taking part in any care plan
- Notify your representative including your doctor, lawyer, or an interested family member if there’s been an accident or injury requiring medical attention or for other specific reasons
- Obtain information about services and fees
- Manage your money
- Get proper privacy, property, and living arrangements
- Spend time with visitors
- Obtain social services such as counseling and help in contacting legal and financial professionals
Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP)
The LTCOP is mandated by the federal Older Americans Act and the Illinois Act on Aging. The LTOCP is designed to protect and improve the quality of life for long-term care residents. The Ombudsman works to:
- Help address individual concerns of the residents
- Help residents understand and assert their rights
- Visit the long-term care facilities and monitor their conditions
- Advocate to improve the quality of life and care the long-term care residents receive
- Investigate complaints
- Maintain confidentiality of resident information unless given permission
- Listen, “in order to understand an issue from the resident’s perspective.”
The services of the Ombudsman are generally free of charge.
At Gainsberg Law, our deepest condolences go out to those who have a lost a beloved relative due to the coronavirus, and our prayers for those who are scared about the health of a parent or anyone in a long-term care facility. We fight for the rights of residents and family members of nursing home residents by filing claims for nursing abuse and negligence. To discuss your legal rights or the legal rights of someone you love with an experienced Chicago nursing home lawyer call us at 312.313.1621 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.