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Jan 19, 2015 by |

Residents’ Bill of Rights

In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Law passed through the federal government, issuing a standard “bill of rights” for all elderly residents of nursing homes across the country. While these rights can help older residents who may fear financial or physical abuse in a nursing home, they are not widely known, and often violated, San Mateo financial elder abuse attorneys have found.

Under the Reform Law, all nursing homes are required to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” These rights include an individual’s right to dignity and independence. If a nursing home participates in Medicare or Medicaid, it must comply with federal residents’ rights, as well as state regulations. The law also states that persons in a long-term care facility must be afforded the same rights as an individual in a larger community.

The Nursing Home Reform Law stipulates that all rights granted by the law should be enacted in a way to ensure “dignity, choice, and self-determination” for all residents, and to improve their quality of life. All nursing homes should provide care that maintains the highest possible standards of wellbeing for their residents, and these standards of care should be communicated to the resident and his or her family in a written care plan that is drawn up with the participation (as much as possible) of the resident.

What is Included in the Bill of Rights?

The Reform Law includes the following rights for all nursing home residents:

  1. Right to be Fully Informed of:
  • Services available and costs for each service
  • Assistance for sensory impairment or disability
  • Change of roommate or rooms
  • Address and phone number for the State Ombudsman and the state survey agency
  • Nursing home’s plans of correction and state survey reports
  • Information in a language understood by the resident. For our Spanish-speaking clients, your right to be fully informed includes your right to have all information provided in Spanish for you.
  1. Right to Complain:
  • To staff or anyone in the facility without fear of retaliation, and with prompt response from facility
  • To the ombudsman program
  • To file an official complaint with the state survey and certification agencies
  1. Right to Participate in Care:
  • Receive appropriate care
  • Be informed when medical conditions or treatments change
  • Be involved in assessments, planning, treatments, and discharge options
  • Refuse care or medication
  • Refuse restraints, either chemical or physical
  • Review personal records
  • Utilize coverage as provided from Medicaid or Medicare
  1. Right to Privacy and Confidentiality:
  • Confidential information is protected
  • Unrestricted communication is available with facility staff of the resident’s choice regarding financial, medical, and personal issues
  1. Rights During Transfers and Discharges:
  • Receive 30-day notice for transfers and discharges, including the reason, the date of movement, the location, the right to appeal, and the contact information for the state ombudsman
  • Remain in the nursing home unless a transfer or discharge is necessary for welfare, for improved health or abilities, to protect the health and safety of others in the facility, or is required because the resident has failed to pay for care and services.
  • Safe discharge or transfer
  1. Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom:
  • Free from all types of abuse
  • Self-determination
  1. Right to Visits:
  • From family, friends, personal physicians, persons or organizations providing services, state representatives, etc.
  • Right to refuse visitors
  1. Right to Make Independent Choices:
  • Personal decisions, including healthcare providers
  • Manage financial accounts
  • Participate in community activities in and out of the nursing home, including a Resident Council
  • Reasonable accommodation from staff

At the Evans Law Firm, Inc., our financial elder abuse attorneys in San Mateo County want all residents to be aware of their rights as granted by the reform law and want to urge them to take advantage of these rights in any situation. If you suspect your rights are being violated, or you have been a victim of financial or physical abuse while in a nursing home, contact our office right away, either by phone at 415.444.8669 or online at We can help you exercise your rights and restore your well-being.

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