All nursing home and long term care facility residents have federal and state legal rights in Wisconsin. These rights exist to protect residents and their family members and ensure that facilities treat residents fairly. If you have a loved one in a facility and their resident rights are ever violated, you can take legal action against the facility on behalf of your loved one as well as relocate your family member to a safer environment.
If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in the Milwaukee area or anywhere in our state, it’s important to understand the following Wisconsin nursing home resident rights and keep an eye out for any type of mistreatment or conduct that may violate these rights:
A Right to Dignity
Every resident has a right to be treated as an individual and to be treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy. Residents must not be allowed to feel humiliated, threatened, or harassed by staff members or other residents. In addition, all residents have a right to be free from abuse of any type (financial, verbal, physical, sexual, or mental) as well as free from punishment, unnecessary restraints, or isolation.
A Right to Privacy
Long term care facility residents have a right to privacy. Resident rooms are to be kept as private as possible and visitors and staff members alike must respect that right to privacy. Resident personal care must be kept private and all residents have a right to private phone calls, mail, and visits.
A Right to Self-Determination
All residents have the right to make their own choices about what activities, schedules, and care options they take part in while at the facility. They have a right to participate in the planning of their care and treatment options. This includes the right to refuse care and treatment. Facility staff members must always properly inform the patient about their full options, however.
A Right to Access
Residents have a right to be fully informed about their rights upon being admitted into a long term care facility—both orally and in writing—as well as the rules of the facility they are being admitted to. They have a right to be notified regarding any changes in rules or regulations during their stay at the facility as well as about their care and treatment plans and any changes made to those plans.
In addition, the facility must provide assistance in helping the resident obtain Medicare/Medicaid for services. They cannot dictate how the resident pays for services. Residents also have a right to retain the use of certain personal objects and clothing and participate in social, religious, and community activities both inside and outside of the facility. Residents and family members must also have the option to create and serve on the resident’s care council that decides on the best course of care for that resident.
A Right to Voice Grievances
Wisconsin nursing home residents have the right to voice grievances about the care and treatment they receive as well as the right to contest their current care plan. These grievances are to be received without discrimination or reprisal and should result in prompt efforts by the facility to resolve any complaints or concerns.
In addition to the above rights, all residents have the right to stay in a facility unless their needs are not being met, a transfer is necessary to meet the resident’s required level of care, the facility ceases to operate, services are not being paid for, or the resident’s health or safety is being endangered.
For more information on how you can protect an aging loved one in the state of Wisconsin, please see the resources here. If, unfortunately, you feel your family member’s resident rights may already be violated or you suspect abuse or nursing home neglect, you should act immediately and contact Wisconsin’s elder abuse hotline to seek help as quickly as possible. Afterwards, be sure to follow up by contacting a Milwaukee nursing home abuse attorney to find out if pursuing legal action is an option.