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October is Residents’ Rights Month – Part 1

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

We all pretty much know what rights are. We’re Americans after all, and most of us have no problem letting someone know when our rights are being stepped on.

But have you ever thought about what rights people have if they happen to live in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, or when they move in with their children or other family member? Do a person’s rights change when they’re no longer completely independent?

The short answer is, no, they don’t change but there’s no denying things are different when you no longer live in your own home. Thanks to legislation passed in the 80s, residents in long-term care nursing facilities have a defined set of rights. What legislation created these residents’ rights/? What are those rights are. If someone you love lives in a long-term care facility, you’ll want to keep reading.

The rights of residents in nursing homes are guaranteed by the 1987 federal Nursing Home Reform Law which requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” Strong emphasis is placed on an individual’s right to dignity and self-determination.  Each facility that participates with the Medicare or Medicaid programs must adhere to these regulations so that means all the nursing homes in our area are governed by these rules.

The goal of nursing homes is “to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident,” meaning the resident shouldn’t be negatively impacted by the way care is provided by the nursing home. In layman’s terms, a resident’s condition may decline due to the natural progression of age or debilitation, but it shouldn’t decline because of the way the facility cares for the person as they progress through their stages of debilitation.

What are a person’s rights as a resident in a nursing home? We’ll look at that in tomorrow’s article.



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