Nursing Home Resident Rights: State-by-State Facility Guide
Regardless of the variations of the quote, “the true measure of any society is found in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” its sentiments ring true when considering the fragility of residents in nursing home facilities. Fortunately, our federal and state governments have legislation protecting this population and safeguarding their nursing home resident rights.
Many potential residents fear losing full autonomy when they consider moving into a nursing home, even though it’s likely a safer and more supportive environment to meet their increasing need for care. As a healthcare leader, you can alleviate this fear and maintain government compliance by following these laws and regulations. This guide will review the federal regulations protecting nursing home residents and provide resources for state rules.
Federal Legislation Protecting Nursing Home Resident Rights
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is one of the primary sources where you’ll find the laws protecting the rights of Medicare and Medicaid residents living in long-term facilities. The Federal Register website publishes the CFRs to help you understand the regulatory process affecting your residents and facility.
Federal Rules Protecting Resident Rights in a Nursing Home
The Requirements for States and Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities provide the key federal regulations that your facility must follow to promote and protect residents, including:
- Residents’ rights (42 CFR 483.10)
- Freedom from abuse, neglect, and exploitation protection (42 CFR 483.12)
- Admission, transfer, and discharge rights policies (42 CFR 483.15)
Each state is required to have an ombudsman program that supports residents living in LTC facilities. Each program has several ombudsmen, one assigned to the overall state and other local territories within the state. The key responsibilities of an ombudsman include the following:
- Advocating for nursing home resident rights and quality of care
- Receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of residents
- Educating residents and facilities about resident rights and good care practices
- Providing potential residents information about finding a facility and getting quality care
While the ombudsman doesn’t have legal authority to require a nursing home to change its policies and procedures, they can file a complaint to government regulators if their investigation reveals violations. So it’s in the facility’s best interest to work with the ombudsman and resident(s) to resolve any complaints that can lead to potential fines, sanctions, or lawsuits.
Common things nursing homes are not allowed to do, or other events that ombudsmen investigate on behalf of resident complaints include:
- Neglect, mistreatment, or abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, etc.)
- Lack of appropriate healthcare for medical conditions or disabilities
- Injuries, including falls and fractures
- Medication errors
- Unanswered requests for help
- Wrongful eviction
Resident Rights in a Nursing Home by State
Now that we’ve reviewed the federal regulations protecting resident rights, you’ll also want to be well-versed in your state’s codes and statutes. This table provides links to your local legislation on nursing home resident rights and LTC ombudsman program. While federal regulations protect all nursing home residents in the U.S., some states have elected to include additional rights to further safeguard this vulnerable population.
Protecting Nursing Home Resident Rights Is Everyone’s Business
Promoting and protecting your residents’ rights is the cornerstone of good patient care at your facility. Don’t miss out on the latest state and federal policy and regulation changes that impact your residents through IntelyCare’s free newsletter updates.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but it is not intended to constitute professional legal advice for any particular situation and should not be relied on as professional legal advice. Any references to the law may not be current as laws regularly change through updates in legislation, regulation, and case law at the federal and state level. Nothing in this article should be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.