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What Do You Know about Residents’ Rights?


What do you know about residents rights?

We all pretty much know what our rights are. We are Americans after all, and most of us have no problem letting someone know when our rights are being stepped on. Have you ever thought about what rights a person has if they happen to live in a nursing home or an assisted living facility? Have you stopped to consider what happens to a person’s rights if they move in with their children or other family member? Do your rights change when you’re no longer completely independent?


The short answer is no, a person’s rights don’t change, but there’s no denying that things are different when you no longer live in your own home, so I’m going to take a few minutes to talk about the rights of residents in long-term care nursing facilities.


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 the nation 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,” which means 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.That being said, here’s a brief outline of a person’s rights as a resident in a nursing home.


As a resident, you have the right to be fully informed of:

  • Available services and cost.

  • The rules the facility has as well as your rights and responsibilities as a resident of the facility.

As a resident, you have the right to be involved in your care and treatment.

  • This includes the right to refuse treatment.

  • The facility must keep you informed of any changes in medical condition.

  • You should be invited and encouraged to attend care plan meetings.

  • You should not be subject to physical or chemical restraints.

As a resident, you have the right to privacy and confidentiality, which includes

  • Private communications with persons of your choice

  • Privacy and confidentiality during treatment and regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs

As a resident, you have the right to dignity and respect, which includes:

  • Always being treated with respect and dignity

  • Freedom from mental and physical abuse including physical and chemical restraints

  • Security of personal possessions

  • The ability to practice self determination

As a resident, you have the right to make independent choices.

  • This includes reasonable accommodation of needs and preferences,

  • The ability to make person decisions– what to wear, how to spend your time, etc.

  • You may participate in resident council

  • You may manage your finances, if able

As a resident, you have the right to meet with visitors of choice…and to refuse visitors


As a resident, you can only be discharged if:

  • The health or safety of individuals in the facility is endangered

  • The resident has improved and no longer needs the services

  • The discharge is necessary for the resident’s welfare or if the facility cannot meet the resident’s needs

  • The resident has failed to pay after given reasonable notice

  • The facility closes

There are very specific rules that govern discharges from a nursing facility. The facility must issue a 30-day written notice of discharge which must cite the reason for discharge, the effective date of the discharge, discharge location, appeal information along with the contact information for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman who can assist the resident through the appeal.


Last, but certainly not least, is a set of rights that cover what I believe is one of the last abilities we lose, and that’s the RIGHT TO COMPLAIN!! The nursing home regulations address this.


As a resident, you have the right to:

  • Present a grievance to the staff without fear of reprisal. The facility must respond promptly to the concerns expressed and work with the resident to resolve them.

  • File a complaint with the state agency overseeing the facility.

  • Voice concerns to the ombudsman program, which is the federally mandated program constructed to provide residents with a professional advocate to assist with grievances

Navigating the ongoing implementation of your rights, however, can be challenging. That's where working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm like Takacs McGinnis really helps. Staff members at Takacs McGinnis understand resident rights and their associated regulations and are able to help their clients and families understand what their rights and when their rights are being impacted. They also work with the facility to assure their client's rights are upheld and to help find solutions when they are not.


If you would like to make sure your elderly loved one's rights are protected, Takacs McGinnis can help. Give us a call at 615.824.2571 to schedule a consultation.



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