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Georgia protects residents' rights in long-term care facilities

Anyone in Georgia who puts a loved one in a long-term care facility wants be assured that the facility will provide adequate and appropriate care. Unfortunately, not all operators of long-term care facilities make the same commitment to their patients. The Georgia Department of Community Health has therefore promulgated a Residents' Bill of Rights for long-term care facilities.

The Residents' Bill of Rights is embodied in a state regulation, and it therefore has the same legal effect as a statute enacted by the legislature. The bill of rights endeavors to provide comprehensive regulation of every aspect of the resident-caregiver relationship, including the need for proper administration and training, privacy for residents and safe-guarding patients' civil rights. Other regulations govern the payment of charges for care and methods of protesting potential improper billing. Each long-term care facility is required to provide written notice to all patients before they are admitted of the resident's rights. The facility must also establish a procedure for processing complaints about any perceived deprivation of a resident's rights.

Perhaps the most important right is the right to freedom of choice. Each resident must be permitted to choose such things as time of awakening and retiring, persons with whom the residents wishes to associate and whether to consume alcohol or tobacco products. Conversely, each resident is guaranteed privacy in their individual rooms.

Before agreeing to admit a loved one, the resident's guardian, conservator or family member should become familiar with the provisions of the bill of rights. If a person has concerns about whether a loved one is receiving proper treatment, getting more information about legal options may be useful.

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