Nursing Home Bill Of Rights


The Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights

Strong advocacy for residents of nursing homes who are denied their rights

Seniors and those who love them should know that the residents of nursing homes have many different rights. These rights are established by federal law, by Medicare and Medicaid, by state laws, and by the terms of their residential contracts. When nursing homes violate these rights, the seniors have the right to file formal claims with an official called an ombudsman. The seniors may also have the right to file a legal claim seeking enforcement of their rights and compensation for any damages they suffer.

At Garcia & Artigliere, our nursing home abuse and elder abuse attorneys explain to the residents of nursing, their relatives, and their caretakers that the nursing homes are there to serve and protect their residents. The residents are not in these homes to be silent and sit in the corner. Nursing home residents should enjoy their senior years as much as possible, with as many friends as possible, and in as good a health condition as possible. In order to live good lives, seniors should know and assert their rights.


What rights do seniors have based on federal laws?

The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) was enacted in 1987 as part of the Omnibus Budget & Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA ‘87). The NHRA establishes many nursing home requirements. The requirements apply to Skilled Nursing Facilities in the Medicare program and nursing facilities in the Medicaid program.

The NHRA creates the following rights for nursing home residents including the right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with people and services inside and outside the nursing home. The facility must ensure that all residents have equal access to quality care – regardless of their condition and the source of payment. The exercise of a resident’s rights includes the right to be free from any adverse consequences for exercising their rights.

Nursing home residents, in Medicare and Medicaid facilities, have the right to designate a representative to exercise their rights. Furthermore, “The same-sex spouse of a resident must be afforded treatment equal to that afforded to an opposite-sex spouse if the marriage was valid in the jurisdiction in which it was celebrated.”

Some of the rights residents of nursing homes have, based on the NHRA and the policies of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) include the following:

Health care rights

  • The right to be informed about and participate in their treatment – in a language the resident can understand. This right includes participation in the development and implementation of the resident’s plan of care – including the right to review the goals of the care, the types of care, the length of care, and any changes to the plan of care. This right includes the right to be informed of the risks and benefits of the various treatments.
  • The right to choose his/her own licensed physician including the ability to contact the physician and to discuss any reasons why the physician cannot provide the necessary healthcare.

Personal rights

  • The right to be “treated with respect and dignity” including:
    • The right to be free from any chemical or physical restraints not necessary to treat the resident’s medical symptoms.
    • The right to keep and use personal possessions subject to space and safety limitations.
    • The right to share a room with a spouse when both spouses agree and live in the same facility
    • The right to share a room with a specific roommate when practicable, the roommates consent, and both live in the same facility.
    • The right to refuse to move to another room unless certain conditions are met.
  • The right to self-determination. This right includes the right to engage in activities, sleeping and waking times, enjoying aspects of the resident’s life that are important to the resident,  and interaction with community members and activities – inside and outside the facility.
  • The right to receive visitors the resident chooses (such as family members) and to see certain officials such as the state long-term care ombudsman, a representative of the resident, the resident’s individual physician, and others. The visitation rights should be in writing and open to anyone the resident chooses without limitation based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”
  • The right to participate in resident groups and family groups within the nursing home.
  • The right to participate in social, religious, and other community activities provided the rights of other residents are not affected.
  • The right to certain information and communication such as personal and medical records, and notices.
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality including the ability to communicate in private with people inside and outside the nursing home.
  • The right to a safe, clean, comfortable, and homelike environment.

Financial rights

  • The right to manage the resident’s financial affairs including being informed about any charges of the facility
  • The right to decide if the resident can deposit any personal funds with the nursing home.
  • The right to an accounting of the resident’s personal funds placed on deposit with the nursing home.
  • The right to certain financial information that may affect the resident’s Medicaid or SSI eligibility or services.

Grievance rights

  • The right to voice grievances to the nursing home and any agency that hears and investigates the grievances of nursing home residents.
  • The right to file formal complaints against the nursing home.

What rights does Medicare grant the residents of nursing homes?

Medicare provides the same rights for nursing home residents as the NHRA does. In addition, nursing homes that submit bills to Medicare or Medicaid (most do) may provide the following rights (if not already required by the NHRA). The nursing home is required to inform its residents of these rights in writing and in a language the resident can understand.

Some of the additional rights Medicare provides for skilled nursing facilities include:

  • The right to be free from discrimination. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) must comply with the US Civil rights laws as Title VII of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA, and the ADEA (spell out both) that discrimination is illegal if it is based on a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age (40 and older) religion under certain conditions, and other covered criteria.
  • The right to be free from abuse and neglect. This right includes the right to be free from physical, verbal, sexual, and mental abuse – and involuntary seclusion.
  • The right to exercise your rights as a U.S. citizen.
  • The right to protections against involuntary transfer or discharge.
  • The right to social services. The SNF must provide you with any needed medically related social services, including counseling, help solving problems with other residents, help contacting legal and financial professionals, and discharge planning.

Your rights also include any rights recognized in the contract between you, the resident, and the nursing home – over and above any other legal rights.

As of 2023, the White House administration and Congress are currently considering new nursing home rights and regulations.


What do I do if a nursing home is not respecting my rights or the rights of my loved one?

Each state is required to have its own Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that receives complaints that a nursing home resident’s rights were violated. The ombudsman then investigates and responds to the complaints.

If the ombudsman cannot resolve a resident’s complaints including the failure of the nursing home to respect a resident’s rights, then our highly respected nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys will aggressively pursue your rights violations through the legal process.

What are the consequences for nursing homes that do not respect the rights of their residents?

The remedies for violating these rights vary depending on the right that was violated, whether the rights of other residents were violated, and the types of damages that occur. Many violations of a senior’s nursing home rights result in abuse or neglect.

The nursing home could be closed. Temporary management could be appointed. The nursing home could be ordered to establish policies to show it is in compliance with its duty to honor every resident’s rights. Civil penalties could be assessed.

If the violation of the rights causes any physical, emotional, or other harm to the resident, Garcia & Artigliere can help.

Do you have a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney near me?

Garcia & Artigliere represents clients throughout America. We have the experience and resources to help nursing home residents assert their rights.

You’re not alone. You have rights. Call Garcia & Artigliere now!

If a nursing home is mistreating you or your loved one in any way, the nursing home may be violating one or more of a resident’s rights. To discuss the rights and violations of rights of any resident of a nursing home, call Garcia & Artigliere today. Our nursing home rights lawyers will explain what right may have been violated. We’ll then seek to enforce your rights and seek compensation for any violations. Call or contact our offices today for a free, confidential consultation. We have offices in California, Louisiana, and Arizona today. We serve clients throughout the country. There are no upfront costs and no attorney fees unless we win.

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