AGG Healthcare of counsel Alan C. Horowitz was quoted in an article published by Skilled Nursing News regarding the steps nursing homes can take to manage legal and financial risks in the face of an increasing population of “solo agers,” or residents with no close family or other support network.
Given this rising trend, circumstances in which a nursing home resident with dementia needs medical care, but has no support system to approve the care plan or pay the medical bill, are becoming more common. As these situations can expose the nursing home to expensive litigation or court visits, it’s imperative that operators implement new protocols.
“At the time of admission to a [skilled nursing facility], the facility should document who the resident’s power of attorney, legal guardian, or ‘responsible party’ is along with their contact information,” Alan said. “If the resident is a ‘solo ager,’ the facility should ask the resident, if competent, who he or she would like to make healthcare decisions for them.”
Alan further advised to always check whether a living will or advanced directive exists that names a surrogate decision maker.
“The most challenging situation is where a solo ager has no advance directive or living will and lacks the decision-making capacity,” Alan said, adding that, in such cases, a court-appointed legal guardian will need to be identified for specific medical decisions in most states.
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