Nursing Home Resident Smoking Rights and Risks
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
In light of several recent tragedies in which nursing home residents started fires due to carelessness with their cigarettes, many senior living facility administrators have considered banning smoking on their premises. But some resident's rights advocates and state regulatory agencies consider this a possible infringement on some residents' "quality of life". This has placed many nursing homes in a struggle to find a balance between satisfying insurance companies' and state safety inspectors' demands for smoking safety, and respecting their residents' rights.
The consequences of a carelessly handled cigarette by a nursing home resident can be catastrophic. In several of the recent tragedies, a fire that broke out cost several residents their lives and the facility suffered considerable damage. But should a nursing home force its residents to quit smoking by no longer accommodating their needs?
Because of these serious issues, families confronting the difficulties inherent in dealing with a loved one who requires nursing care may be wise to consider a nursing home's smoking policies, regardless of whether their loved one smokes. Here are some questions a loved one's family member, caregiver or guardian can ask managers and administrators of a prospective nursing care facility:
- What are the facility's smoking policies? Are the terms, expectations, conditions, and responsibilities of each party in writing?
- Are there designated smoking areas with National Fire Protection Association approved ashtrays and smoking aprons? Are they equipped with fire extinguishers the staff are trained to use?
- Are cigarettes, lighters, and other smoking devices accessible by the staff only?
- Is there a call system to summon help in case of an emergency?
- Does the facility have an adequate fire suppression system (sprinklers) and smoke and fire detectors?
- Are fire evacuation procedures posted?
- Does the facility use fire-retardant on combustible materials?
- Are there at least annual inspections by the local fire department?
- Is there a "no smoking in bed" policy strictly enforced by the staff?
- What actions will the staff take if a resident does not comply with the smoking policies?
These, of course, are only a few of the questions that should be asked when choosing the right senior living facility for a prospective resident. But while smoking policies and procedures may seem trivial by-and-large, the safety and "quality of life" issues involved make them anything but.