What are Nursing Home Resident Rights?

Nursing home resident rights are protected under the federal law known as the Nursing Home Reform Law.  Established in 1987, this law requires that nursing homes “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” Above all else, nursing home residents should be able to live independently and with dignity.  Nursing home abuse should never happen.

In addition to this federal law, there are other laws that require nursing homes to meet certain standards in order to obtain funding from Medicare or Medicaid.  Through these standards and laws, nursing homes are must meet certain standards of care while upholding the basic resident rights. 

Nursing Home Resident Rights

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what the rights of nursing home residents are:

Quality of Life

Each nursing home resident has the right to an enhanced quality of life.  Nursing homes must ensure that residents have choice, dignity, and self-determination.  Nursing homes must, therefore, offer activities and services that meet the needs of each resident physically, mentally, and socially. 

Also, nursing homes are required to create a plan of care that details the resident’s needs and services.  This plan of care should be created in collaboration between the nursing home, resident, and relevant family members. 

The Right to Respect, Dignity, and Freedom

All nursing home residents have the right to be treated with respect, consideration, and freedom.  They have the right to be secure in their environment, including their possessions, finances, and safety.

The Right to Be Informed

Nursing home resident rights require that nursing homes fully inform residents about what is happening in relation to their services and care.  Residents have the right to be fully informed of any costs related to these services, and should not be required to pay for services they don’t want.  Furthermore, residents have a right to receive any information in a way that they can understand, including language, Braille, or with the assistance of a family member. 

The Right to Participate in Care

One of the foundational nursing home resident rights is the right to participate in one’s own care.  This includes residents having the right to:

  • Participate in assessment, care plan development, treatment, and transfer or discharge
  • Refuse physical or chemical restraints
  • Refuse to take medications
  • Be informed about changes in medical condition or care
  • Review one’s own medical records
  • Not pay for services that are covered by Medicare or Medicaid

Above all, resident rights are to ensure that nursing home residents can live as independently as possible. 

The Right to Privacy

Nursing home residents have the right to privacy in their personal needs and environment, their financial affairs, medical care, and communication.  Likewise, resident rights include the freedom to communicate with anyone they choose without monitoring or restrictions. 

Right to Make Independent Choices

Nursing home resident rights include the freedom to make independent choices.  That includes freedom to make choices without interference from nursing home staff.  Residents also have the right to make choices regarding their:

  • Personal life – What to wear, what to eat, and how to spend their time
  • Medical care – What physician to use, treatments to try, medications to take
  • Activities – Choice of community activities in and out of the facility
  • Finances – Management of one’s one finances

The Right to Visit

Nursing home residents have the right to visitors of their choosing.  This includes:

  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Organizations
  • Legal professionals
  • Healthcare providers
  • State agency or Ombudsman representatives

Likewise, residents also have the right to refuse visitors at any time.  Resident rights include the ability to choose when to have visitors and with whom they choose to visit. 

The Right to Complain

Nursing home residents have the right to complain if they have a grievance against staff members, healthcare providers, other residents, or anyone else.  This right includes being free from reprisal or retaliation.  Resident rights also include the freedom to complain to state agencies, the Ombudsman program, or anyone else. 

Nursing homes must make a reasonable effort to correct or resolve grievances within a timely manner. 

Learn More about Nursing Home Resident Rights

If you have questions about nursing home resident rights, or are concerned that your rights have been violated, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center.  Our team of legal professionals can certainly help ensure that your legal rights are protected.  Whether you live in New York, Texas, California, or Oklahoma – our team has the resources you need to make sure you get the care you deserve. 

Contact Nursing Home Abuse Center by calling toll free at 1-800-516-4783.  You can also reach us via email by completing our online form.


meagan cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to FNHA and our websites, including Birth Injury Guide and MedMalFirm.com.