What Are the Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents?

Posted On March 11, 2020 Nursing Home Abuse

Every resident of a nursing home deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but residents’ rights are protected under the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.

The abuse of the elderly in nursing homes is far too common in this country. However, elder abuse is also vastly underreported. Here, we want to discuss what rights nursing home residents have and what you can do if you discover that your loved one has been abused in a nursing home.

What Does the Nursing Home Reform Act Say?

According to AARP, the Nursing Home Reform Act passed in 1987 extends the following rights to nursing home residents:

1.     The right to be fully informed

The law allows for residents to be fully informed about available services and the charges for these services. They have the right to know the facility rules and regulations as well as the address and phone number to state agencies that regulate nursing homes. Residents also have the right to know of plans of room changes or roommates in advance. In general, nursing home residents should be informed of anything involving their care in a nursing home.

2.     Right to complain

Nursing home residents have the right to present their grievances to any staff member without fear of retaliation for making a complaint. Residents also have a right to complain to state regulatory agencies about the care they receive in a nursing home.

3.     Right to participate in one’s own care

Nursing home residents have a right to receive adequate and appropriate care and to be informed of all changes in their medical condition. They must be allowed to participate in their own treatment and be able to refuse medication (if their mental condition allows for this). Residents have a right to review their medical records.

4.     Right to privacy and confidentiality

Residents should be able to have private and unrestricted communication with any person. They have a right to privacy concerning medical, personal, or financial affairs.

5.     Rights during transfer or discharge

Nursing home residents have a right to not be transferred or discharged from a facility unless:

  • it is necessary to meet their welfare/medical needs
  • their condition has improved, and they no longer require care
  • a move is necessary to protect other residents or staff

In some cases, a transfer or discharge may be allowed for failure to pay for services.

6.     Right to dignity, respect, and freedom

Nursing home residents have it right to be treated with respect and dignity and to be in an environment free from mental and physical abuse of any kind.

7.     Right to visits

Nursing home residents have it right to visits from their physicians and visits from state agencies. They also have the right to visits from friends, relatives, and any other organizations or groups of their choosing. Nursing home residents also have the right to refuse visitors.

8.     Right to make independent choices

All nursing home residents should have the right to make personal decisions as to how they spend their free time and to make decisions about reasonable accommodations for their needs and preferences. A resident should be able to choose their physician, be able to manage their own financial affairs, and participate in activities both inside and outside the nursing home.

Contacting an Attorney

This federal law, as well as other federal and state laws, provide nursing home residents with rights and protections concerning the care and services they receive. A nursing home must tell a resident about these rights and explain them in writing. These rights must be explained before or at the time a person is admitted. If you or a loved one have been denied rights in a nursing home, seek legal assistance today. An Anaheim elder abuse attorney like those at Siegel Law can investigate your case and work to hold the nursing home accountable and secure any compensation you may be entitled to.


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