When you or a family member are being cared for in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, it is important to know your rights. Under Colorado law residents have clear rights.
The following are some of your Colorado State Rights, a copy of which is required to be given to you. These rights apply whether or not the facility is a Medicaid facility:
(a) The right to civil and religious liberties, including knowledge of available choices and the right to independent personal decisions, which will not be infringed upon, and the right to encouragement and assistance from the staff of the facility in the fullest possible exercise of these rights;
(b) The right to have private and unrestricted communications with any person of his choice;
(c) The right to present grievances on behalf of himself or others to the facility’s staff or administrator, to governmental officials, or to any other person, without fear of reprisal, and to join with other patients or individuals within or outside of the facility to work for improvements in patient care;
(d) The right to manage his own financial affairs or to have a quarterly accounting of any financial transactions made in his behalf, should he delegate such responsibility to the facility for any period of time;
(e) The right to be fully informed, in writing, prior to or at the time of admission and during his stay, of services available in the facility and of related charges, including charges for services not covered under medicare or medicaid or not covered by the basic per diem rate;
(f) The right to be adequately informed of his medical condition and proposed treatment, unless otherwise indicated by his physician, and to participate in the planning of all medical treatment, including the right to refuse medication and treatment, unless otherwise indicated by his physician, and to know the consequences of such actions;
(g) The right to receive adequate and appropriate health care consistent with established and recognized practice standards within the community and with skilled and intermediate nursing care facility rules and regulations as promulgated by the department;
(h) The right to have privacy in treatment and in caring for personal needs, confidentiality in the treatment of personal and medical records, and security in storing and using personal possessions;
(i) The right to be treated courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity and to receive a written statement of the services provided by the facility, including those required to be offered on an as-needed basis;
(j) The right to be free from mental and physical abuse and from physical and chemical restraints, except those restraints initiated through the judgment of the professional staff for a specified and limited period of time or on the written authorization of a physician;
(k) The right to be transferred or discharged only for medical reasons or his welfare, or that of other patients, or for nonpayment for his stay and the right to be given reasonable advance notice of any transfer or discharge, except in the case of an emergency as determined by the professional staff;
(l) The right to devolution of his or her rights and responsibilities upon a sponsor, guardian, or person exercising rights contained in a designated beneficiary agreement, who shall see that he or she is provided with adequate, appropriate, and respectful medical treatment and care and all rights which he or she is capable of exercising should he or she be determined to be incompetent pursuant to law and not be restored to legal capacity;
(m) The right to freedom of choice in selecting a health care facility;
(n) The right to copies of the facility’s rules and regulations and an explanation of his responsibility to obey all reasonable rules and regulations of the facility and to respect the personal rights and private property of the other patients.
In addition, regulations for assisted living facilities establish some of the following rights:
Residents shall have the following rights:
(a) The right to be treated with respect and dignity.
(b) The right to privacy.
(c) The right not to be isolated or kept apart from other residents.
(d) The right not to be sexually, verbally, physically or emotionally abused, humiliated, intimidated, or punished.
(e) The right to be free from neglect.
(f) In general, the right to live free from involuntary confinement, or financial exploitation and to be free from physical or chemical restraints.
(g) The right to full use of the facility common areas, in compliance with the documented house rules.
(h) The right to voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services.
(i) The right to communicate privately including but not limited to communicating by mail or telephone with anyone.
(j) The right to reasonable use of the telephone, in accordance with house rules, which includes access to operator assistance for placing collect telephone calls. At least one telephone accessible to residents utilizing an auxiliary aid shall be available if the facility is occupied by one or more residents utilizing such an aid.
(k) The right to have visitors, in accordance with house rules, including the right to privacy during such visits.
(l) The right to make visits outside the facility in which case the administrator and the resident shall share responsibility for communicating with respect to scheduling.
(m) The right to make decisions and choices regarding their care and treatment, in the management of personal affairs, funds, and property in accordance with their abilities.
(n) The right to expect the cooperation of the facility in achieving the maximum degree of benefit from those services which are made available by the facility.
(o) The right to exercise choice in attending and participating in religious activities.
(p) The right to be reimbursed at an appropriate rate for work performed on the premises for the benefit of the administrator, staff, or other residents, in accordance with the resident’s care plan.
(q) With some exceptions, the right to 30 days written notice of changes in services provided by the facility, including but not limited to changes in charges for any or all services.
(r) The right to have advocates, including members of community organizations whose purposes include rendering assistance to the residents.
(s) The right to wear clothing of choice unless otherwise indicated in the resident’s care plan and in accordance with reasonable house rules.
(t) The right to choose to participate in social activities, in accordance with the care plan.
Colorado’s Department of Human Services is responsible for providing protective services for elders. Colorado defines an at-risk elder as a person seventy years of age or older. The definition includes elders who are unable to perform or obtain services necessary for the individual’s health, safety, or welfare or lack the sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning their affairs.
Mandatory reporting of abuse, mistreatment, or self-neglect of elders, as of May 16, 2013, is now required in Colorado, for certain professionals and caregivers. Reports are made to a law enforcement agency not more than 24 hours after making the observation or discovery. People who do report are immune for reports made in good faith.
If you are unsure of your rights or you think you or a loved one’s rights have been violated, contact a trusted and knowledgeable elder care attorney. The Meyer Elder Law Firm is dedicated to the rights of elders and Rhett Meyer has the skills necessary to help you. Call Rhett at (303) 444-1618 to discuss your elder care matter.