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What Are the Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents?

Posted on November 17, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes should be safe environments for residents who need around-the-clock care, with attentive caretakers and protocols in place to protect patient well-being. There are many federal laws in place to ensure the rights of nursing home residents, including the Social Security Act, Older Americans Act and Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The main law that established legal rights for nursing home residents, however, was the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. This created the Residents Bill of Rights.

Dignity, Respect, and Freedom From Abuse

The Bill of Rights entitles all nursing home residents to be treated with dignity and respect. The nursing home and its staff members must treat residents with an appropriate amount of consideration and care. Residents also have the right to be free from abuse, mistreatment and neglect. Nursing home abuse can take the form of physical, mental, financial or sexual abuse. It is against the law for a nursing home or any of its employees to abuse or mistreat a resident in any way.

Quality of Life

Nursing home residents have the right to a good quality of life. The facility must maintain or enhance a resident’s quality of life while he or she is in the facility’s care. It must provide for residents in a way that promotes a positive quality of life, with dignity and self-determination. No resident should decline mentally, emotionally or physically because of the way that a nursing home provides care. Every long-term care facility must offer services and activities for residents that promote their physical, emotional and psychosocial well-being.


All residents have the legal right to be fully informed of what is going on with their health, medical treatments and care. A resident must be informed of all services available at the facility, the charge for each service, the nursing home’s rules and regulations, the patient’s legal rights, his or her medical status, and any plans to change the room or roommate. The nursing home must keep the resident fully informed at all times.

Decision-Making Capabilities

The resident maintains the right to make his or her own decisions and independent choices. This right applies to the resident’s care, medical treatments, doctors, medications, physical restraints, medical records, what to wear, how to spend free time, whether to participate in community activities and more.


Every nursing home resident has the right to privacy and confidentiality. Residents must have private and unrestricted communication with anyone of their choice, including nursing home staff members, doctors and other residents. They are also entitled to privacy during medical care and the care of their personal needs, as well as confidentiality regarding medical, personal and financial affairs.


Nursing home residents are entitled to visits from others, including access to the resident’s physician and representatives from state programs, such as ombudsman programs. Residents also have the right to be visited by relatives and other individuals, subject to the resident’s permission.


All residents have the right to complain about their care, the nursing home, staff members or anyone else to nursing home supervisors or representatives without fear of retaliation. In addition, they also have the right to complain to ombudsman programs without reprisal. A nursing home is required to make a prompt effort to resolve any grievances.

Proper Discharge or Transfer

Another right given to nursing home residents is the right to be properly transferred or discharged from a facility. A nursing home cannot kick a resident out without having a valid and lawful reason, as well as without using the required procedures. For example, the nursing home must give the resident at least a 30-day notice.

If you believe that a nursing home in California has violated any of these legal rights, negatively affecting you or a loved one, contact a compassionate Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyer at Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP for a free case consultation. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights.