Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
In Illinois, nursing home residents are protected under federal and state law. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act requires nursing home facilities to provide services to patients that meet federal standards of care. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act further protects nursing home patients by granting them legal rights when they are at a licensed facility in the state. This law gives patients the right to live free from "abuse" and "neglect" at "long-term care facilities" in the state. It defines "abuse" as any physical or mental injuries inflicted on a resident in a facility that was not accidental. "Neglect" means "a facility’s failure to provide or willful withholding of, adequate medical care, mental health treatment, psychiatric rehabilitation, personal care, or assistance with activities of daily living that is necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness of a resident." A "long term care facility" is defined as a private home, institution, building, residence, or any other place, whether operated for profit or not…which provides through its ownership or management, personal care, sheltered care or nursing for 3 or more persons, not related to the applicant or owner by blood or marriage."
When the rights of a nursing home resident are violated, and the patient is injured, either through abuse or neglect caused by the facility failing to provide an acceptable standard of care, the patient may pursue a claim for damages. The state of Illinois recognizes the following damages in nursing home cases:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses
- Wrongful death
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act established the rights of nursing home residents and the responsibility of long-term care facilities to protect seniors from abuse and neglect. The following are the rights of residents:
- You have the right to live in a caring environment and remain free from abuse, neglect and mistreatment.
- You have the right to wear your own clothes and keep your personal belongings in your room.
- You maintain all your rights as a US citizen, including: free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to vote.
- You have the right to refuse medical treatment unless necessary to prevent harm to other residents.
- You have the right to be cared for by your own doctor (paid for by you or your health insurance).
- You have the right to participate in the creation and review of your individual care plan.
- You have the right to see and copy all medical records related to your care, as well as the right to be informed of your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.
- You have the right to manage your own financial affairs. The nursing home may not deny you access to any money they hold for you.
- You have the right to privacy and dignity. Staff must knock before entering your room, and the facility must keep your personal and medical information confidential.
- You have the right to be free from physical restraints and from being drugged, unless a physician orders it for your protection.
- You have the right to have social contact with fellow residents and family. The nursing home must provide daily visiting hours, mailing facilities and telephone access.
- If you and your spouse are living in the same facility, you have the right to live in the same room unless there is a medical reason not to.
- You have the right to present grievances without fear of reprisal.
- The nursing home must honor any directives in your Living Will.
- You have the right to a private phone call with your attorney, social worker or ombudsman during business hours.
- You have the right to request a transfer or discharge from the facility, and this request must be honored by the nursing home.