Under federal regulations, all nursing homes must have written policies that describe the rights of residents. The nursing home is required by law to make a written copy of the “Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights” – available to any resident who requests it. The following outlines the issues that should be covered in the bill of rights.

The Right to Be Informed of One’s Rights and the Policies of the Home

The nursing home must have written policies about your rights and responsibilities as a resident. The resident must sign a statement saying that he has received and understands these rights and the rules of the home at the time of admission.

The Right to Be Informed about the Facility’s Services and Charges

Every resident has the right to be fully informed of the services available in the facility and of the charges related to those services. This includes charges for services not covered under Medicare or Medicaid and charges that are not covered by the facility’s basic rate.

The Right to Be Informed about One’s Medical Condition

Every resident has the right to be informed of his medical condition, unless the physician notes in the medical record that it is not in the patient’s interest to be told.

The Right to Participate in the Plan of Care

Every resident must be given the opportunity to participate in the planning of his medical treatment. This includes the right to refuse treatment.

The Right to Choose One’s Own Physician

Every resident has the right to choose his own physician and pharmacy. Residents do not have to use the nursing home’s physician or pharmacy.

The Right to Manage One’s Own Personal Finances

Residents can either manage their own funds or authorize someone else to manage them. If someone else is authorized to handle funds, the resident has the right to:

  • Know where funds are and the account number
  • Receive a written accounting statement every 3 months
  • Receive a receipt for any funds spent
  • Have access to funds within 7 banking days

The Right to Privacy, Dignity and Respect

Every resident has the right to be treated with consideration, respect, and with full recognition of his dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and in care for his personal needs.

The Right to Use One’s Own Clothing and Possessions

Every resident may retain and use his personal clothing and possessions as space permits, unless to do so would infringe upon rights of other residents, or constitute a hazard to safety.

The Right to Be Free from Abuse and Restraints

Every resident has the right to be free from mental and physical abuse, and free from chemical and physical restraints, except as authorized in writing by a physician for a specified and limited period of time or when necessary to protect the individual from injury to himself or to others.

The Right to Voice Grievance without Retaliation

Every resident should be encouraged and assisted to exercise the right to voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff or outside representatives of his choice without fear of coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.

The Right to Be Discharged or Transferred Only for Specific Reasons

Residents may only be discharged or transferred for medical reasons, or for their welfare or that of other residents, or for non-payment. Becoming Medicaid-eligible in a certified facility does equal non-payment. A resident (or designated representative) must be provided with 30-days advance written notice of the transfer or discharge. The law gives you the right to appeal your discharge or transfer.

The Rights of Access
Residents have the right to:

  • Receive any visitor of their choosing and may refuse a visitor permission to enter their room or may end a visit at any time
  • Immediate access by family and reasonable access to others
  • Visiting hours of at least 8 hours, which are posted in a public place
  • Contact with members of community organizations and legal services during visiting hours
  • Confidential communication with visitors, including assistance with personal, social, and legal services
  • Claim their rights and benefits through individual assistance, counseling, organizational activity, legal action, or other forms or representation

For further information about nursing home rights, visit the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform website. http://www.nccnhr.org/