The Resident Rights Of Seniors In Nursing Homes

The Resident Rights Of Seniors In Nursing Homes

As more and more individuals spend some time in a nursing home; the public must be aware of the rights that a nursing home resident has.

Knowledge of their rights will be critical for their lawyers, families, and friends in preserving their safety and well-being.

This article will give you an overview of nursing home residents’ rights to exercise freely during their stay in the facility.

The Nursing Home Reform Act

A nursing home is a facility that offers care for elderly or disabled individuals who cannot live independently and take care of themselves. When an aged or disabled person is placed in a nursing home, there is a certain expectation of care, but there have also been instances of abuse, neglect, and poor treatment.

Due to these and other factors, the Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987. The Residents’ Bill of Rights, produced and published by the reform legislation, has three main sections; the third contains a list of 28 specific rights. The residents of nursing homes were granted several important human rights, including the right to privacy, the ability to express themselves freely, access to medical care that meets their needs, and many more.

The Residents Bill Of Rights

To strengthen the protections for the elderly and infirm, the Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987. This reform created “The Residents’ Bill of Rights,” which further articulated a resident’s rights. 

The Residents Bill of Rights includes the following:

  • The right to freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect;
  • The right to freedom from physical restraints;
  • The right to privacy;
  • The right to accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs;
  • The right to participate in resident and family groups;
  • The right to be treated with dignity;
  • The right to exercise self-determination;
  • The right to communicate freely;
  • The right to participate in the review of one’s care plan and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility; and
  • The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.

What are Residents’ Rights?

According to the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law, every nursing home must ensure that residents are treated with dignity, freedom of choice, and self-determination while promoting and enhancing their quality of life.

All nursing homes are required to offer services and activities that will help each resident achieve or maintain the highest possible level of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being following a written plan of care that is initially created with as much input from the resident, the resident’s family, or the resident’s legal representative as is practical. This means a resident’s health or well-being should not decline from how a nursing facility delivers care.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law protects the resident rights of a nursing home facility below:

The Right to Be Fully Informed of

  • Services that are offered and their associated prices
  • A written copy of the resident rights, including the facility’s laws and regulations
  • Address and contact information for the state survey agency and the state ombudsman
  • Reports from state surveys and the nursing home’s corrective action plan
  • Plans made in advance for changing rooms or roommates
  • Assistance if there is a sensory impairment
  • Residents are entitled to information in a language they can understand (Spanish, Braille, etc.)

Right to Complain

  • Present complaints to staff or anyone else without fear of retaliation, and the facility will make swift attempts to address any complaints.
  • To file a grievance to the ombudsman program.
  • To file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency.

Right to Participate in One’s Own Care

  • Receive the right kind of care.
  • Keep up with any medical condition changes.
  • Take part in evaluating and planning their own care, treatment, and discharge.
  • Rejecting medication and therapy
  • Refuse to be restrained physically and chemically
  • Look over one’s medical records
  • Not be charged for services that Medicare or Medicaid Right to confidentiality covers and privacy
  • An unrestricted, confidential conversation with anyone of their choosing
  • In the course of attending to one’s personal requirements
  • About health, personal, or financial matters

Rights During Transfers and Discharges

  • Remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge:
  • (a) is required to ensure the welfare of the resident;
  • (b) is appropriate when the client no longer needs nursing home care due to an improvement in their health;
  • (c) is required to safeguard the well-being and safety of any other residents or employees.;
  • (d) is necessary due to the resident’s failure to pay the facility charge for a good or service they requested after receiving reasonable notice and a chance to do so.
  • Obtain a 30-day notice of transfer or discharge that details the circumstances, the date it took effect, the residence where the resident is going, their right to appeal, and the name, address, and contact information for the state’s long-term care ombudsman
  • Safe transfer or discharge is made possible by the nursing home’s thorough planning

Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom

  • to be treated with dignity, consideration, and respect
  • to be free from chemical and physical restrictions, physical and mental restraints, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion
  • To personal choice
  • security of property

Right to Visits

  • By the resident’s primary care physician, as well as representatives of the state survey agency and the ombudsman programs
  • by the occupants’ chosen relatives, friends, or other individuals
  • By businesses or people who offer health, social, legal, or other services
  • Residents are allowed to reject guests.

Right to Make Independent Choices

  • Decide for yourself what to wear and how to spend your free time.
  • accommodating one’s demands and preferences in a reasonable manner
  • Select a Doctor
  • Take part in neighborhood events both inside and outside the nursing home.
  • Participate in and organize a resident council.
  • Control one’s financial situation

You may find the nursing home residents’ federal rights in detail on the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) site.

Get More Information

To know more about Residents’ Rights, or if you have any inquiries or concerns, you may get in touch with your Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. 

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program encourages and protects residents’ rights in licensed long-term care facilities. Visit for more information. 


The resident’s rights for long-term and short-term care are safeguarded under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act. It strives to maintain nursing home residents’ self-determination, dignity, or standard of living.

A resident’s rights cover a broad range of care and aspects of daily living. These rights are in place to ensure residents are safe, comfortable, and not taken advantage of in a nursing home.  

However, there are still instances when residents cannot exercise or fight for their rights, partly due to a lack of knowledge. Hence, seniors and their families must be completely aware of these rights to prevent them from being compromised.