Moving to a nursing home is not the first choice for residence of many - perhaps any. And yet, statistics tell us that nursing home populations continue to rise each year. Though most of us feel they are "institutions of last resort," many of us will live at least part of our lives in one, and we likely already carry some preconceived notions about what to expect. Read on for a primer about the most common myths about Washington DC nursing homes, as well as the truth behind them.
Myth: Resident wander around unless restrained.
Fact: The use of restraints is prohibited, either for the sake of discipline or convenience for the nursing home.
Myth: Individual schedules are not possible in a nursing home.
Fact: Individual needs, preferences, and schedules must be observed as much as possible by nursing home staff.
Myth: A nursing home is nearly the same as a hospital.
Fact: The nursing home environment is quite different from that of a hospital. Nursing homes aim to rehabilitate residents to their maximum potential, enabling each to return to an independent life - whatever that means for that particular patient. Other goals of nursing homes include maintenance of the achieved level of function (rehabilitation) for as long as possible considering age and disease particulars; delay of deterioration of emotional and physical well-being; and support of the resident/patient and family, if and when health declines to the point of death.
Myth: The resident is in danger of being evicted on the grounds of being difficult or refusing treatment.
Fact: This is untrue. While eviction is possible for other reasons (failure to pay, nursing home care is no longer required, the facility is going out of business, etc.), "being difficult" is not a valid ground for eviction.
Myth: Staff alone determine the care residents receive.
Fact: In fact, residents, family, and loved ones have the right to participate in care plan development.
Myth: Visiting hours are limited and restricted.
Fact: Visiting is possible for family members at any time of the day or night.
Myth: Medicaid will not sponsor all the nursing home services you want.
Fact: Medicaid-funded residents are entitled to identical nursing home services as any other resident.
Myth: Hiring private help is necessary for special needs.
Fact: A nursing home is required to provide any and all necessary care.
Myth: Extra charges may be applied to your bill by the nursing home at any time.
Fact: Only those "extra charges" authorized in the agreement of admission are allowable.
Myth: There is no available space for meetings between residents and family members at nursing homes. Fact: Any nursing home is required to provide private space for resident and family meetings.
Myth: Nursing homes offer nothing to do, except sit.
Fact: Good nursing homes are strong social environments, with activities, outings, and opportunities to interact.
Myth: Nursing homes have no privacy.
Fact: Residents have a right to privacy. This must be balanced with the safety needs of many residents to be supervised at all times. All staff and visitors should observe common courtesies, including knocking before entering rooms, and respecting modesty and personal choice.
Myth: Residents in nursing homes give up all of their rights.
Fact: All constitutional rights extend into the nursing home. This includes, among other things, the right to voice concerns and complaints and to have a voice in the care they receive
Myth: Medicare funding will pay my bill for nursing home care and services.
Fact: Medicare only pays for a small amount of nursing home care. In most cases, Medicare covers the first 20 days in a "skilled nursing facility," as long as other conditions are met. Beyond this, a portion of the cost of nursing home care will be covered for up to 80 additional days. At the end of Medicare coverage, another source is required - private insurance, out-of-pocket, etc.
Myth: Refusing medical treatment is cause for eviction from a nursing home.
Fact: Any individual, including a nursing home resident, has the right of refusal of medical treatment without penalty.
For more information on these myths and other important nursing home facts, contact your Maryland nursing home abuse attorney.