Residents’ Rights are guaranteed by the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. The law requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident” and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination. Nursing homes must meet federal residents' rights requirements if they participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Some states have residents' rights in state law or regulation for nursing homes, licensed assisted living, adult care homes, and other board and care facilities. A person living in a long-term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community.
View a Consumer Voice fact sheet on Residents' Rights.
Select on a below link to learn more about Residents' Rights.
Residents' Rights Guarantee Quality of Life
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law requires each nursing home to care for its residents in a manner that promotes and enhances the quality of life of each resident, ensuring dignity, choice, and self-determination.
All nursing homes are required "to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care that… is initially prepared, with participation, to the extent practicable, of the resident, the resident's family, or legal representative." This means a resident should not decline in health or well-being as a result of the way a nursing facility provides care.
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law protects the following rights of nursing home residents:
The Right to Be Fully Informed of
Right to Complain
Right to Participate in One's Own Care
Right to Privacy and Confidentiality
Rights During Transfers and Discharges
Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom
Right to Visits
Right to Make Independent Choices
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The Center is pleased offer Residents' Rights in the following languages, English, French, Hindu, Korean (Illinois specific, not federal version) Spanish and Russian (Illinois specific, not federal version). Select on the links below to access each version.
If you have a copy of Residents' Rights in a language not listed here and would like to share it with NORC, e-mail it to email@example.com. Thank you!
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Residents' Rights Month is an annual event designated by the Consumer Voice and is celebrated in October to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, sub acute units, assisted living, board and care and retirement communities. It is a time for celebration and recognition offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident. The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2013 is, "Speak Out Against Elder Abuse!" with the goal of encouraging residents and others to be educated about and speak out against elder abuse.
2015 Residents' Rights Month Packet of Materials
Each year, the Consumer Voice develops a packet to help you plan your Residents’ Rights events. The packet is completely downloadable and features ready-to-use items, including promotional materials, activities to celebrate Residents' Rights Month, training tools and resources. Check back as Residents' Rights Month packet materials become available.
Introduction & Overview
The Resident's Voice Challenge 2015
Consumer Voice is pleased to announce the 2015 Resident’s Voice Challenge! Creative writing and artistic expression are meaningful and compelling ways to communicate the importance of residents’ rights and how these rights can be carried out in all long-term care settings.
For this year’s Resident’s Voice Challenge, residents are encouraged to pick up their pens, dust off their type writers or use a computer to display their writing or artistic skills by submitting essays, poems, artwork, drawings, or videos related to the theme for Residents' Rights Month 2015 "CARE Matters".
Entries submitted for the Resident’s Voice Challenge will be compiled and shared in a variety of formats. We are asking residents and consumers to submit 40 words of wisdom to coincide with the celebration of Consumer Voice’s 40th anniversary. Some entries may appear in our “40 Words of Wisdom” book (on sale this summer). Other submissions may appear on the Consumer Voice website, be featured at the 2015 Annual Conference, be highlighted in our weekly e-newsletter - The Gazette, or be used in additional forums. Every resident who submits an entry will receive a certificate for participating in the 2015 Resident’s Voice.
For more information and submission guidelines, click here.
Residents' Rights Month Activities
Residents' Rights Month is a time to offer residents an opportunity to participate in engaging activities. Use the activities below to involve residents and staff members in sharing with the community.
Activities for Residents with staff and ombudsmen:
Activities for Staff and Ombudsmen:
Residents' Rights Month Products
This year, in celebration of Consumer Voice's 40th Anniversary, we will be creating a "40 Words of Wisdom" book (on sale this summer), filled with advice, essays and poems from consumers. Check back this summer for more information! (If you are a resident or consumer interested in participating in the "40 Words of Wisdom" book, click here for more information.)
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Thinking Outside the Box (of Wine): Alcohol Use in Long-Term Care Facilities (August 2013)
This presentation prepared by the Oregon Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program discusses residents' rights around alcohol use, risk considerations related to alcohol use, using the evaluation and care plan process to drive solutions to challenges with alcohol, and the use of root-cause analysis principles to problem solve.
Resident Rights Report Sheet for 2011
Resident Rights 2011 training
Residents' Rights Inservice
Considerations Regarding the Needs of Long-Term Care Residents for Intimate Relationships and Sexual Activity – Carol Scott, Kansas City, MO: Center for Practical Bioethics.2007
Sexuality and Intimacy in LTC Facilities
Developed by Julie Button and Amy Panosh of the WI Board on Aging and LTC Ombudsman Program. Note that the consent piece of the presentation pertains only to WI case law. It is important that other states are aware of this and may need to do research on their consent laws in their state.
Guidelines for Resident Rights-Problem Solving Presentation (for up to 20 people) - A Tutorial for Ombudsmen
Guidelines for Large Group (30-150 staff) Resident Rights Presentation - A Tutorial for Ombudsmen
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New Mexico State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Discusses Residents' Rights (November 2013)
Residents’ Rights and the LGBT Community: Know Your Rights as a Nursing Home Resident (October 2013)
This factsheet highlights federal residents' rights and nursing home requirements that may be of particular importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and provides options for complaint resolution, information for reporting abuse and resources regarding long-term care and LGBT advocacy.
Memo to State Survey Agency Directors on Access and Visitation Rights in Long Term Care (LTC) Facilities (June 2013)
Technical Assistance Brief - Personal Property in Long-Term Care Facilities
Residents in long-term care facilities have the right to retain personal possessions and make their room as homelike as possible. While the size of the room and potential health and safety of other residents may need to be considered and result in limitations, a long-term care facility cannot ban the placement of personal property in a resident’s room. This TA Brief addresses the question of whether or not it is appropriate for a long-term care facility to restrict or ban personal property from appearing on the walls, floor or in other areas of the resident’s room.
Piecing Together Quality Long-Term Care - A Consumer's Guide to Choices and Advocacy
This guide from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (the Consumer Voice) and accompanying fact sheets are designed for advocates and consumers who are currently receiving or who may in the future receive long-term services and supports in the community. The purpose of these materials is to inform advocates and consumers about options for long-term services and supports, and to empower consumers - through education - to effectively advocate on their own behalf.
The “Put a STOP to Poor Care” brochure, produced by the Consumer Voice in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), includes indicators of quality care, warning signs, red flags of potential abuse, and advocacy tips to address concerns. Regardless of where an individual receives long-term care services and supports they are entitled to receive quality, person-centered care, and this brochure was designed to help consumers understand quality care, learn how to identify issues, and gain action steps to advocate for the care they need and deserve. Long-term care ombudsmen (LTCO) could distribute this brochure during their visits, use it as a training tool during in-service training for facility staff, and share it with members of Resident and Family Councils.
The brochure can be downloaded in different formats here and here.
Put a STOP to Poor Care Webinar
This Consumer Voice webinar was held in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) in order to provide a basic framework to help long-term care residents, their family members, and other advocates identify quality care and potential issues. Regardless of where an individual receives long-term care services and supports they are entitled to receive quality, person-centered care. The webinar presenters identify indicators of quality care and warning signs of poor care, provide communication tips, and share advocacy strategies to help consumers, family members, and others advocate for individualized care. Presenters also share available resources to assist in advocating for quality care and review the role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Program and how to seek assistance from the LTCO program.
The slides for this webinar can be downloaded as a PDF or as a PowerPoint
The Fine Art of Balancing Protection with Self Determination - Webinar (November 2015)
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The CT LTCOP reported on the progress of the CT Statewide Coalition of Presidents of Resident Councils Executive Board. The State Ombudsman supports and facilitates the work of the Executive Board through regular meetings and conference calls, financial support to attend meetings in some instances and assistance with meetings with legislators and policy makers. (2011)
District of Columbia
The DC LTCOP organized and hosted the first annual Leadership Conference for presidents of resident and family councils at local nursing home, and organized a forum for social workers of long-term care facilities addressing issues with the return of residents to their homes via home and community based services. (2011)
The Iowa Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman received inquiries on a regular basis as to whether an attorney-in-fact, under a durable power of attorney for health care, can limit or deny visitation to a resident or tenant. As a result, OSLTCO developed a policy on visitation and access to residents after many concerns arose. The hope is that this policy will help inform and guide facilities, lawyers and other advocates on visitation rights, placing the focus on the resident. This policy has been shared with the survey entity, the protection and advocacy agency and NF/ALP associations. (2013)
The Mississippi program planned and organized its annual Snowflake Ball. Its mission is to provide a holiday outing for residents living in long-term care facilities. (December 2011)
The New Mexico LTCOP worked with the provider community to support the Physical Restrain Free State Initiative. To be recognized as a Physical Restraint Free Facility, a facility must request that the Ombudsmen conduct a seven step site visit scheduled at a mutually agreeable time. If this site visit shows any physical restraint usage, the facility has to provide detailed information about each instance of use that demonstrates that the usage was consistent with the exceptions allowed for under the law. The New Mexico LTCOP expects to build a more positive relationship with the nursing home industry such that facility staff members learn to work with ombudsmen instead of against to promote resident rights and wishes. (2013)
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