A nursing home makes the only practical solution for some families with loved ones requiring round-the-clock health care. Understanding the rights of nursing home residents makes placement easier and helps residents and their families if future problems arise. Mandated by state and federal nursing home laws and the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, residents’ rights give patients and their families control over medical and personal care and help ensure a healthy and happy living arrangement.
Explanation of Rights
Upon placement, nursing home residents must be informed about all facility services and provided with written and verbal notice of their legal rights. In return, residents must provide written acknowledgement of receipt and understanding of their rights.
Nursing home residents must be allowed certain freedoms. Facilities cannot discriminate against a resident based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, disability, or age. Residents have a right to respectful treatment and should never be exposed to nursing home neglect, involuntary isolation, and/or emotional, financial, physical, sexual, or verbal abuse. Caregivers may physically restrain residents only in moments of medical necessity or to prevent self-injury. Caregivers may use chemical restraints only for medical treatment.
Resident Rights for Medical Treatment
Residents and their families must be given control over medical care. Nursing homes must allow patients specific medical rights:
- Knowledge of health status and prescribed medications
- Ability to self-administer medicines when possible
- Right of refusal for treatments and medications
- Right of refusal for participation in experimental treatments
- Right of refusal for extra medical services
- Access to medical records and confidentiality
- Access to a primary physician
- Right to voice concerns about medical treatments or care
Resident Rights for Privacy, Personal Property, Finances, and Living Arrangements
Residents must have control over money and financial decisions unless they give consent to another individual. Residents also have rights regarding privacy, personal property, and living arrangements.
- Freedom to send and receive mail
- Freedom to use the telephone
- Right to have and use belongings unless proven unsafe
- Access to fire and health inspection reports
- Right to share a room with a spouse
- Right to privacy during spousal visitation
- Advance knowledge of roommate change
- Right to refuse an inadequate room
- Knowledge of facility fees
- Access to money
- Right to appoint a trustee to handle money
- Right to allow the facility to handle money with written consent
- Right to quarterly financial statements
Additional Resident Rights
Residents also have a right to make complaints without fear of retribution and change facilities if desired. They have a right to have visitors and to leave the facility with friends and family if health permits. Residents also have a right to form groups with other residents and access various social services.
Rights Regarding Facility Discharge or Transfer
Patients and families must be informed of conditions that require removal or transfer from a facility. At least 30 days written notice must be given prior to removal or transfer, and the resident has a right to appeal a transfer. Nursing homes cannot remove or transfer patients unless health improves and care is no longer needed or health declines requiring a different facility. Other options for removal include facility closure or unpaid services.