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NursingHomeReality is currently following a situation involving a nursing home located in Norwich, New York that is accused of violating the visitation rights of one of their residents.  New York state agencies and local advocacy groups have been contacted and the local news media alerted to this inexcusable situation.

The situation involves a friend of a nursing home resident who has been banned from the facility for “causing trouble” by reporting care concerns to state investigators.Retaliation like this is all too common within the nursing home industry. Nursing homes routinely ban immediate family and friends (we’ve even learned of at least one situation where a long-term care Ombudsman was banned from a facility). This is inexcusable!!! And the motive for the banning is obvious to all concerned: the nursing home staff isn’t doing their job right and rather than continue to get “caught in the act” they violate the civil rights (regarding visitation) of their residents.

Hey nursing home officials: If you are doing your job CORRECTLY, why do you CARE if your resident’s friends are allowed to visit? What kind of abuse and neglect are you trying to hide? Maybe neglect that involves residents not being toileted and/or their soiled undergarments not being changed regularly?

Violation of resident’s rights is an extremely serious situation and one that deserves an immediate response by the state and widespread reporting by news media and blogs like ours.

The courageous woman who has been banned, a long-time friend of the nursing home resident in this situation, has begun daily informational picketing outside the nursing home!  This is the kind of activism that is needed to make positive changes that will lead to meaningful nursing home reform! So I’m asking you, dear readers who live in or near upstate New York, if you would be willing to volunteer take part in the informational picketing? The picketing can be on a weekday or weekend.

Nursing homes may have impressive financial resources, but “We The People” — when engaged in meaningful action — can make things happen for the better!

Please click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link at the top of this journal entry and give me your e-mail address and/or phone number if you would be willing to picket a certain nursing home in Norwich, NY! Your name and contact information will remain completely confidential!

*** UPDATE: 10/9/10 ***

As of this date, we have not been informed of a positive resolution to the situation with the nursing home referenced above. Our hope is that this terrible situation can serve as an opportunity to remind our readers of several important issues regarding dealing with nursing homes concerning the care of a family member or friend. Among the points to consider:

  • Nursing home administrators can act in what appears to be an autocratic manner (e.g., take actions for which it appears that no recourse exists) when it comes to banning family members and friends from visiting a resident in their facility.  However, EVERY such action taken by an administrator CAN be challenged through the legal system and potentially can be overturned by state or even local authorities (At the state level, this is done through the agency in a particular state that regulates nursing homes. At the local level this is done through to the local office of Adult Protective Services.) In some instances, federal officials can and have intervened in the case of the violation of a resident’s rights.
  • Nursing home residents DO have civil rights (including the right to visit with anyone and everyone they want to visit with). ALL of their rights, including the right to visitation, MUST be judiciously protected!  You DO have a right to file complaints with local and state officials if you feel that you have been banned — for no good reason — from visiting a nursing home resident. In our personal experience, retaliation for reporting facility problems/care concerns to the state is the #1 reason that family members and friends are banned from visiting nursing home residents. If the  facility is doing it’s job correctly, why on earth would they want to prevent outsiders from seeing what’s going on inside their facility?  Hmmm.
  • It is also correct to state that every nursing home resident has a right to refuse to visit with anyone and everyone they wish to not visit with, in that same way that the rest of us can refuse contact with inviduals. At the same time, it is also important that nursing home management and staff does not exploit their residents by going out of their way to encourage residents from visiting with individuals they personally do not like. It is one thing for the resident to have an issue with someone, but quite another thing for nursing home professionals to pressure residents into banning visits.
  • Ultimately, a nursing home IS the “home” of the individuals who reside there. So when nursing home administrators and/or staff inappropriately attempt to prevent residents from exercising their right to visitation (or any other civil right), these illegal actions must be confronted!
  • I can’t emphasize enough — again based on my personal experience — how every family member and friend visiting a nursing home reasident needs to keep a WRITTEN ACCOUNT of problems they experience with resident care and other concerns they encounter in the facility. This includes making notes concerning both inappropraite comments and actions of nursing home management and staff (especially nurses and CNAs). It is not paranoide for me to state that you can believe that every word you speak and every action you take while in a nursing home IS being observed (and possibly also being docmented in written form), especially when you are perceived as being concerned about the care of a resident! The degree of defensiveness on the part of management and staff is often way over-the-top and to me is one of the clearest signs that those people know they are not providing a quality of care that they are legally required to provide.
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