Elder Abuse That Occurs in NJ Institutions
Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Residences, Etc. are Regulated by the Office of the New Jersey Ombudsman for the Institutional Elderly
Approximately 100,000+ individuals reside in a variety of long-term care facilities in New Jersey. In most cases, these elderly residents are in facilities because their care needs are such that they can no longer remain at home. Such facilities include nursing homes, assisted living residences, community group homes, etc. Many elderly persons suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of cognitive dementia. They are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The Federal Older Americans Act requires each state, including New Jersey, to establish and operate an Office of the Institutional Care Ombudsman; and establish an Office Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. The Institutional Ombudsman Act includes:
- Identification, investigation and resolution of complaints made by or on behalf of residents living in long-term care facilities.
Federal law also requires that New Jersey protect the confidentiality of complaints and records about all licensed nursing homes in the state, provide adequate legal counsel to the Ombudsman office and program, indemnify representatives of the Ombudsman from liability for the good faith performance of their duties, prepare an annual report, and provided training to Ombudsman representatives.
Protective Actions One Can Take to Report Elder Abuse
The Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly in New Jersey
In 1977, in response to Federal mandate, the New Jersey legislature passed a law creating the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly.
What Does the Office of Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly in New Jersey do?
The basic objective of the Office is to promote, advocate and insure, the adequacy of the care received, and the quality of life experienced, by elderly patients, residents and clients residing in long-term care facilities within New Jersey.
Mandatory Reporting of Abuse and Exploitation in a New Jersey Nursing Home or Institution
As relates to institutions like a nursing home, and unlike a community setting, professionals are mandated by law to report abuse and exploitation of elders. The Mandatory Adult Abuse Reporting Act was adopted in 1983, and requires that any caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse or other professional, who, as a result of information obtained in the course of his/her employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall report such information obtained in a timely manner to the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman’s designee.
Confidentiality of Complaints Made to the Ombudsman
Another hallmark of the Office of the Ombudsman has been its attention to maintaining the confidentiality of all persons who have reported abuse and/or acted under the provisions of the law. There is immunity when reporting suspected institutional patient abuse which can be overcome only with evidence of intentional or reckless disregard when filing a false complaint.
So, if you suspect abuse in an institutional setting remember you can confidentially call the ombudsman’s office and report your complaint privately and confidentially.
Have questions or a case involving institutional elder abuse in New Jersey? Contact Fredrick P. Niemann, a NJ elder abuse law attorney toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at email@example.com.
He will sit and discuss your case and help you evaluate whether an actionable case of elder abuse exists.
Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents Under Federal Law
The rights of nursing home residents are also protected under a federal law known as the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). The law requires nursing homes to protect the rights of each resident and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and decision making. Under their licensing approval, nursing homes must agree to honor residents’ rights when participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, if they want federal and state funding.
Patient rights are more specifically described in the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations require a nursing home to “develop and implement written policies and procedures that prohibit mistreatment, neglect and abuse of residents. The regulations prohibit the use of restraints for purposes of discipline or convenience, and forbid physical abuse, corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion. The law also requires that the nursing home provide “[a] safe, clean, comfortable, and a homelike environment…” Finally, the regulations require that each nursing home provide services and activities to achieve or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care which . . . is initially prepared, with participation to the extent practicable of the resident, the resident’s family, or legal representative.
Here’s a snapshot of the rights to residents of nursing homes under federal law:
- Right to Self-Determination
- Right to Personal Privacy
- Right to Be Free of Abuse and Restraints
- Right to Information
- Right to Visits
- Right of Voluntary Transfer and Defense Against Discharge Rights
- Protection of Personal Funds
- Protection Against Medicaid Discrimination.
A resident in a nursing facility is entitled to receive written notice of the rights and services to which he or she is entitled during his/her stay in the facility. This notice must be given prior to or upon admission, and periodically throughout the resident’s stay, in a language the resident understands. The resident must acknowledge his or her receipt of such notice in writing.
Early Dementia, Alzheimer’s. My Mom’s health deteriorated to the point she required full-time care. She wanted to live at home but required regular help with the essentials of daily living (i.e. dressing, bathing, etc.). As her caregiver daughter, the responsibilities fell on me to figure out what to do. Thank goodness for Hanlon Niemann and Mr. Niemann.
He met with me and explained all my options for my mom, from at home/community care, assisted living, state, county and local programs for the elderly, financial eligibility for benefits, Medicaid qualification, pharmaceutical assistance, utility aid, Medicare and Veteran’s benefits, etc. While I felt overwhelmed by it all, Mr. Niemann clearly was in control of what could be done for Mom. We engaged him to make applications for subsidized at-home care and assistance through available grant programs and as part of his services to us, he is counseling us on a reverse mortgage, income and financial products to enhance Mom’s monthly income and to reduce her expenses. Mom would tell me to let Mr. Niemann make all the decisions although I am her Power of Attorney. I value so much his confident and generally caring manner. If you’re trying to help your Mom, Dad or family member deal with a life changing health condition, call Hanlon Niemann. I’m glad I did and so is Mom.
Mary Layton – Farmingdale, NJ
Contact me personally today to discuss claims of elder abuse by a NJ nursing home or violation of a nursing home resident’s rights. I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns. You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorney
Nursing Home, Assisted Living Abuse | Institutional Elderly | Assisted Living in New Jersey | Group Residential Home