Nursing Home Resident Rights: State-by-State Facility Guide

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Written by Diana Campion, MSN, APRN, ANP-C Education Development Nurse, Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Aldo Zilli, Esq. Senior Manager, B2B Content, IntelyCare
Woman talking to man in a wheelchair in a nursing home

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:

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.

State State Regulations Ombudsman Site
Alabama AL Department of Public Health Chapter 420-5-10 Nursing Facilities AL LTC Ombudsman
Alaska AK Admin Code, Chapter 12, Section 7 AK Ombudsman
Arizona AZ Article 4. Nursing Care Institutions AZ LTC Ombudsman
Arkansas AR Rules and Regulations for Nursing Homes AR Ombudsman
California CA Nursing Home Residents’ Rights – Fact Sheet CA LTC Ombudsman
Colorado CO Code of Regulations CO LTC Ombudsman
Connecticut CT Enacts Legislation for LTC CT LTC Ombudsman
Delaware DE Long-Term Residents’ Rights DE LTC Ombudsman
Florida FL Statutes 400.022 Residents’ Rights FL Ombudsman
Georgia GA 111-8-50 LTC: Residents’ Bill of Rights GA LTC Ombudsman
Hawaii HI 11-100.1- Adult Residential Care Homes (ARCH) HI LTC Ombudsman
Idaho ID Section 39-3316

ID Administrative Rules for Residential Care

ID Ombudsman
Illinois IL 210 ILCS 45/ Nursing Home Care Act IL LTC Ombudsman
Indiana IN Rule 410 IAC 16.2-3.1 IN Ombudsman
Iowa IA #481.58.39Nursing Home Residents IA LTC Ombudsman
Kansas KS Understanding Nursing Home Regulations KS LTC Ombudsman
Kentucky KY Revised Statutes – Chapter 216.515 KY Nursing Home Ombudsman
Louisiana LA Nursing Home Resident Rights RS 40:2010.8 LA Ombudsman
Maine ME Chapter 110: Regulations Governing Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing Facilities Chapter 10 Residents’ Rights ME Ombudsman
Maryland MD Nursing Home Care and Resident Rights MD Ombudsman
Massachusetts MA General Law – Part I, Title XVI, Chapter 111, Section 70E MA Ombudsman
Michigan MI Section 333.20201 MI LTC Ombudsman
Minnesota MN Patient, Resident and Home Care Rights MN Ombudsman for LTC
Mississippi MS Chapter 45 Subchapter 1 General Nursing Homes MS LTC Ombudsman
Missouri MO Division 30—Chapter 88—Resident’s Rights MO Ombudsman
Montana MT Part 11. Long-Term Health Care Facilities – Title 50, Chapter 5, MCA MT LTC Ombudsman
Nebraska NE 175 Health Care Facilities and Services Licensure NAC 12-006.05 NE LTC Ombudsman
Nevada NV NRS: Chapter 449A – Care and Rights of Patients NV LTC Ombudsman
New Hampshire NH Chapter 151 Residential Care and Health Facility Licensing NH LTC Ombudsman
New Jersey NJ NJAC 8:39-4.1 Mandatory Residents Rights NJ LTC Ombudsman

NJ LTC Ombudsman – Rights for LGBTQI and HIV+ Residents

New Mexico NM Nursing Home Resident Rights NM LTC Ombudsman
New York NY Section 415.3 – Residents’ Rights, Rules and Regulations NY LTC Ombudsman
North Carolina NC Declaration of Residents Rights/GS_131D-21.pdf NC LTC Ombudsman
North Dakota ND Century Code t50c10.2 ND LTC Ombudsman
Ohio OH Section 3721.13 – Ohio Revised Code OH LTC Ombudsman
Oklahoma OK Nursing Home Care Act Rights OK LTC Ombudsman
Oregon OR Residential Care and Assisted Living Facilities OR LTC Provider Resources
Pennsylvania PA LTC Nursing Facilities § 201.29. Resident Rights PA LTC Ombudsman
Rhode Island RI Chapter 17.5 Rights of Nursing Home Patients RI LTC Ombudsman
South Carolina SC Bill of Rights for Residents of LTC Facilities SC Ombudsman
South Dakota SD Rules Administrative 44:73:11 SD LTC Ombudsman
Tennessee TN Department of Health 1200-08-06-.12 Resident Rights TN LTC Ombudsman
Texas TX Administrative Code Residents’ Rights TX LTC Ombudsman
Utah UT R432-150-12. Nursing Care Facility Resident Rights UT LTC Ombudsman
Vermont VT 7301. Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights VT LTC Ombudsman
Virginia VA 12VAC5-371-150. Resident rights. VA Omsbudsman LTC
Washington (state) WA Chapter 74.42 RCW: Nursing Homes—Resident Care, Operating Standards WA LTC Ombudsman
Washington D.C. DC Chapter : 22-B32 Nursing Facilities DC LTC Ombudsman
West Virginia WV Residents’ Rights, W. Va. Code R. § 64-13-4 WV LTC Ombudsman
Wisconsin WI 50.09 Rights of Residents in Certain Facilities WI Ombudsman
Wyoming WY Rules Nursing Care Facilities WY LTC Ombudsman

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.