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    Nursing home residents' rights


    • Nursing home residents' rights are the legal and moral rights of the residents of a nursing home. Legislation exists in various jurisdictions to protect such rights. An early example of a statute protecting such rights is Florida statute 400.022, enacted in 1980, and commonly known as the Residents' Rights Act.

      Specific rights protected vary greatly by jurisdiction. Types of rights protected include: dignity, medical privacy, pecuniary, dietary and visitation rights. Process rights, such as right of complaint, are also sometimes protected.

      In the United States, concerns about poor quality care and ineffective regulation of nursing homes date back to the 1970s. Early regulation focused on the ability of nursing homes to provide care, rather than on the quality of the care provided or the experience of the individuals receiving care. In the 1980s, particularly in response to an influential Institute of Medicine (IoM) report, the US federal government moved to address these concerns by enacting more resident-focused regulations, and among these were a number of new quality-of-life rights for residents of nursing homes. Similar concerns over quality of care motivated people in other countries to advocate for residents' rights.

      Advocates for residents' rights in Australia have established a Charter of Residents' Rights and Responsibilities and the Department of Health and Ageing provides an official unit to deal with complaints. In 1987, the government introduced substantial reform and regulation which included a program to monitor standards.

      Nursing home residents' rights in Canada appear to have been primarily legislated at the provincial level. In Ontario, for instance, the Long Term Care Homes Act 2007 contains a "Residents' Bill of Rights", including, inter alia, the rights to be treated with courtesy and respect; to privacy in treatment; to be informed of one's medical condition and treatment; to consent to or refuse treatment; to confidentiality of medical records and treatment; to receive visitors; and, when near death, to have family members present 24 hours a day.

      Since 1994, New Zealand has protected residents rights' (and rights of the disabled more broadly) under the Health and Disability Commissioner Act, including rights to respect, freedom from discrimination and coercion, dignity, communication in a language the resident can understand, information and informed consent, and right of complaint.



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