Nursing Home "Residents' Bill of Rights"

Elder abuse in nursing homes can occur in a number of different ways. Fortunately, there are several state and federal laws offering protection for all nursing home residents.

At the top of the list of legal rights for nursing home residents is the Nursing Home Reform Act - "Residents' Bill of Rights." It includes 10 items (among other topics) designed to protect individuals from neglect, abuse and/or exploitation.

Nursing home residents have the right to:

1. Freedom from abuse, mistreatment and neglect;

2. Freedom from physical restraints;

3. Privacy;

4. Accommodation of medical, physical, psychological and social needs;

5. Participate in resident and family groups;

6. Be treated with dignity;

7. Exercise self-determination;

8. Communicate freely;

9. Participate in the review of one's care plan, and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility; and

10. Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.

This legislation was enacted in 1987 after a study by the Institute of Medicine found many instances of neglect, abuse and/or inadequate care. These legal rights must be followed by nursing homes for the following reasons: 1) In order to receive federal dollars (Medicare and Medicaid) for long-term residents, facilities must be certified by the state; and, 2) In order to be certified, they must remain in "substantial compliance" with the Nursing Home Reform Act.

If you suspect elder abuse in any nursing home or residential facility, contact our office to discuss your concerns.

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