The landscape of long-term care facilities has changed a great deal in recent years.
Residents’ rights for persons living in long-term care facilities are essentially the same rights to which any citizen is entitled under the U.S. Constitution. It has been necessary to spell them out in law and regulation because residents are often unable to assert their rights due to physical or mental disabilities. Moreover, the disparity of power between staff and residents and the fear of retaliation against residents by staff contribute to an atmosphere in which residents are often reluctant to assert their rights.
The purpose of residents’ rights laws and regulations is to safeguard and promote dignity, choice, and self-determination; and to protect civil, personal, and privacy rights, including the right to information; rights related to health-care decision-making, due process, transfer and discharge rights; the handling of personal finances; and the right to be free from abuse and restraints, both physical and chemical.
In Colorado, there are laws and regulations regarding residents’ rights in hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities for the developmentally disabled and for the mentally ill, alternative care facilities, and assisted living residences. This article focuses on nursing homes and assisted living residences only.
This article is reprinted with the permission of Continuing Legal Education in Colorado.