Surveys conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reportedly show that nursing homes across the nation are increasingly being cited for violating the voting rights of residents. In November 2010, a nursing home near Peoria, Illinois reportedly failed to make it possible for 12 facility residents to vote. According to an inspection report, two additional residents at the Timbercreek Rehab and Healthcare Center were only allowed to vote after obtaining assistance from a relative.
Reports of failure to provide long-term care facility residents with the opportunity to register to vote, vote in person, or obtain absentee ballots exist throughout the country. According to Robyn Grant, Public Policy Director at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, many nursing home residents feel they lost a number of their rights the moment they moved into a care facility. She added that long-term care facility residents tend to take their right to vote seriously. Nina Kohn, Professor of Law at Syracuse University, stated the facility itself generally has a tremendous impact on whether a resident is able to exercise his or her right to vote because nursing home employees may be called upon to assist or remind residents about voting. Kohn said since there is no capacity test for voting in the United States, a long-term care facility may not decide who should be allowed to vote.
Unfortunately, elderly and disabled residents are often left distraught when they are unable to exercise their constitutional voting rights. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 to protect the rights of residents living in long-term care facilities in the U.S. Under the Act, nursing homes that are Medicare-certified are required to make residents aware of their right to vote and assist them in both registering and voting. The Illinois Act on the Aging was also implemented in order to protect the rights of the elderly, including nursing home residents.
Long-term care facility abuse and neglect is not always easy to identify. In addition to physical abuse, nursing home residents may experience emotional abuse and distress. When a resident’s rights are violated, he or she may become depressed, exhibit a loss of appetite, and attempt to alert family members to the situation. Signs of physical abuse may include unexplained bruises, broken bones, bedsores, and an increased number of accidents. All suspected instances of nursing home abuse or neglect should be taken seriously and reported.
If you believe your friend or loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the knowledgeable lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. Our experienced Chicago area nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you protect the rights of your loved ones. For a free consultation with a committed Illinois attorney, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
Research Study Finds Seniors With Bedsores at Increased Risk of Death in Illinois, Nationwide, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 5, 2012
A Prescription for Abuse in Chicago Nursing Homes: Too Many Medicated Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, October 9, 2012
Nursing homes cited for violating residents’ voting rights, by Blythe Bernhard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Find Voting Rights Violations in Nursing Homes, by Jennifer LaFleur, propublica.org