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Know nursing home residents’ financial rights

October 16, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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A recent USA Today article is drawing attention to several cases in which nursing home personnel stole resident money from trust fund accounts managed by the facilities. State and federal inspectors have issued more than 1,500 citations to nursing homes for mismanaging trust funds or failing to protect them from theft, according to the newspaper’s analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Also, more than 30 percent of the roughly 100 prosecutions of long-term care institution employees who stole trust fund money involved thefts of “tens of thousands of dollars or more,” in most cases from multiple residents.

What are your responsibilities to residents when it comes to their finances? CMS, on its website, outlines several rights and protections applying to residents of Medicare- and/or Medicaid-certified nursing homes. When it comes to financial matters, CMS notes:

  • Nursing homes must allow residents to manage their own money or choose someone they trust to manage their money.
  • For those residents depositing money with a facility or asking a home to hold or account for their money, the nursing home must have each resident sign a written statement indicating this preference.
  • Nursing home must allow residents access to their bank accounts, cash and other financial records.
  • Facilities must have a system in place to ensure full accounting for residents’ funds and cannot combine resident funds with the nursing home's funds.
  • Nursing homes must protect residents’ funds from any loss by providing acceptable protection, such as buying a surety bond.
  • When a resident who has a fund dies, the facility has 30 days to return his or her funds with a final accounting to the person or court handling the resident's estate.

Nursing homes are required to explain these and other rights to residents verbally and in writing and must obtain from each resident written acknowledgement of having received such notice. Individual states and other entities may have additional requirements.

See other content by this author here.