What Everyone Should Know About
Residents' Rights in Nursing Homes
U.S. Government Publication Number 37283E-4-98
WHAT ARE RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS?
They’re rights that help ensure quality of care – and quality of life – for residents of long-term care facilities (“long term care facility” refers to skilled nursing facilities, SNFs, health-related facilities, HRFs and intermediate care facilities, ICFs). These rights include:
Legal Rights: the protection guaranteed under local, state and federal laws
Human Rights: such as respect for privacy and the considerate treatment necessary to preserve dignity.
Other Special Rights: for example, rights having to do with medical treatment and other areas of life in a long-term care facility.
WHY SHOULD I LEARN ABOUT RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS?
Because protecting these rights is everyone’s concern.
If you’re a Resident, learn what your rights are and how to make sure they’re respected.
Family and Friends should also understand residents’ rights.
If you’re a Staff Member, it’s part of your job to respect the rights of all residents. You can help ensure that your facility is a pleasant, comfortable and safe place to live!
RESIDENTS ENJOY THE SAME RIGHTS AS ALL PEOPLE
Residents have a right to:
Constitutional Protection: residents of a long-term facility have the right to
A Basic Quality Of Life: residents have the right to a high standard of care and a safe, secure, comfortable environment.
Freedom To Exercise Their Rights: the facility may not limit or take away any of a resident’s rights (except in certain temporary emergency situations).
These rights are not the facility’s to give – or take away. They belong to you!
RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED BY LAW
The Federal Government protects all rights and sets standards through the Constitution and other special laws.
Each State licenses long-term care facilities, administrators and certain personnel to help ensure the best care. In addition, facilities must meet local building, health and fire codes.
Together, state, local and federal governments promote residents’ rights and quality care.
YOUR RIGHTS AS A RESIDENT
You may exercise these rights unless your health-care provider determines that doing so is not medically advisable.
Your facility should provide you with a written statement that explains your right to:
Be Informed: The facility must make sure you know and understand all your rights and responsibilities. Staff should review these rights with you and notify you in advance of any changes.
Exercise Your Rights: Staff should encourage and help you to exercise your rights. The facility must have a system for handling complaints. You must be allowed to use it freely – and receive a prompt response.
Be Told of Available Services: You must be told about all services available to you and their cost. You must also receive reasonable notice of any changes in these charges.
Make Treatment Decisions: As a legally competent adult, you have the right to accept – or refuse – treatment.
Prepare an Advance Medical Directive: This document allows you to state how you want medical decisions made, should you become physically or mentally unable to make them yourself.
Be Informed of Your Condition and Treatment: You have a right to:
Be Transferred or Discharged Only for Certain Reasons: Acceptable reasons are:
You must receive reasonable notice of transfer or discharge. If you need help finding other care or appealing the move, the staff must provide it.
PERSONAL FREEDOM AND PRIVACY ARE GUARANTEED
The facility protects your rights to:
Keep Personal Clothing and Possessions.
Confidentiality of Your Records.
Meet and Communicate with Anyone You Wish.
ALL RESIDENTS DESERVE RESPECT FOR THEIR PROPERTY
This means that you have the right to be:
Free From Abuse and Unnecessary Restraint.
Treated as an Individual.
Free From Having to Perform Chores.
MANY STATE HAVE THEIR OWN RESIDENTS’ “BILL OF RIGHTS”
That may guarantee additional rights. For example, a state may give residents the right to:
MEDICARE AND MEDICAID PROGRAMS
Help ensure quality care and residents’ rights. Facilities certified for Medicare and Medicaid meet tough federal standards for:
The Facility: The building and its maintenance must meet standards aimed at protecting the health, safety and comfort of residents.
Quality of Care: The government sets standards for all areas of care.
Medicare and Medicaid Patients Have Special Rights. These protect against discrimination and other unfair treatment based on a resident’s participation in Medicare and Medicaid.
For more information about these programs, contact:
SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What Are My Responsibilities as a Resident?
It’s up to you to:
What if I Need Emergency Medical Treatment?
Emergencies call for fast action. The facility may have to treat you without your consent, or move you to another facility without notice.
How Do I Create an Advance Medical Directive?
You’ll need to prepare one of the following:
Ask your facility for more details.
Promote residents’ rights – and more! They can be an effective way to:
Communicate and Resolve Grievances:
Counsels can be a formal or informal way to solve problems in the facility.
An active counsel can plan events and activities, and can get residents involved.
Influence Public Policy:
Resident councils can be a strong voice in the community. Writing letters to legislators, testifying at public hearings and other activities help protect the interests of residents everywhere.
OTHER SOURCES OF HELP
If you have questions about your rights, contact:
The facility must help you get information about your rights. A list of sources of help should be posted in the facility and made available to you.
RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS MEAN QUALITY CARE – AND QUALITY LIVING!
IT’S YOUR RIGHT – AND IT’S THE LAW!