Resident’s Rights

Residents’ Rights are guaranteed by the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. The law requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident” and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination. Nursing homes must meet federal residents’ rights requirements if they participate in Medicare or Medicaid, regardless of the resident’s source for payment.

Some states have residents’ rights in state law or regulations for nursing homes, assisted livings, residential health care facilities, psychiatric facilities, and group home or other long term care facility. A person living in a long-term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law requires each nursing home to care for its residents in a manner that promotes and enhances the quality of life of each resident, ensuring dignity, choice, and self-determination.

All nursing homes are required “to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care that is initially prepared, with participation, to the extent practicable, of the resident, the resident’s family, or legal representative.” This means a resident should not decline in health or well-being as a result of the way a nursing facility provides care.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law protects the following rights of nursing home residents:

The Right to be Fully Informed of:

  • Available services and the charges for each service
  • Facility rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights
  • Address and telephone number of the State Ombudsmen and State Survey Agency
  • State survey reports and the nursing home’s plan of correction
  • Advance plans of a change in rooms or roommates
  • Assistance if a sensory impairment exists
  • Residents have a right to receive information in a language they understand (ex: Spanish, Farsi, Braille, etc.)

The Right to Complain:

  • Present grievances to staff or any other person, without fear of reprisal and with prompt efforts by the facility to resolve those grievances.
  • To complain to the Ombudsmen program
  • To file a complaint with the State Survey and Certification Agency/Department of Health

The Right to Participate in One’s Own Care:

  • Receive adequate and appropriate care
  • Be informed of all changes in medical condition
  • Participate in their own assessment, care planning, treatment, and discharge
  • Refuse medication and treatment
  • Refuse chemical and physical restraints
  • Review one’s medical records
  • Be free from charge for services covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid

The Right to Privacy and Confidentiality:

  • Private and unrestricted communication with any person of their choice
  • During treatment and care of one’s personal needs
  • Regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs

Rights During Transfers and Discharges:

  • Remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge:
  • Is necessary to meet the resident’s welfare;
  • Is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved and s/he no longer requires nursing home care;
  • Is needed to protect the health and safety of other residents or staff;
  • Is required because the resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay the facility for services or items


  1. MUST receive written 30 day notice that includes the reason for the discharge, effective date, location to which the resident is transferred or discharged, the right to appeal, name address and telephone number of the Ombudsmen (unless medical necessity for transfer)
  2. MUST have written physician approval for the transfer
  3. MUST be sent to a safe environment with sufficient preparation by the nursing home for the transfer/discharge

Right to Dignity, Respect and Freedom:

  • To be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity
  • To be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints
  • To self determination
  • Security of possessions

Right to Make Independent Choices:

  • Make personal decisions, such as what to wear and how to spend free time
  • Reasonable accommodation of one’s needs and preferences
  • Choose a physician
  • Participate in community activities, both inside and outside the nursing home
  • Organize and participate in Resident Councils/Family Councils
  • Manage one’s own financial affairs
  • Vote

Right to Visits:

  • By a resident’s personal physician and representatives from the State Survey Agency and Ombudsmen’s Programs
  • By relatives, friends, and others of residents’ choosing
  • By organizations or individuals providing health, social legal, or other services
  • Residents have the right to refuse visitors

Contact Schall at Law if you or a loved one has sustained an injury as a result of a nursing home, assisted living or group home’s violation of Residents’ Rights.