Nursing Home Resident Rights

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When you move into a nursing home, you do not lose any of your rights. You are still protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You continue to have the right to:
  • Speak freely.
  • Enter into contracts.
  • Manage your own personal and financial affairs.
  • Associate with and visit whomever you choose.
  • Communicate with persons outside the home.
  • Be free from physical, mental and sexual abuse.
  • Make your own decisions about medical treatment.
If you have a guardian, the guardian exercises your rights. If you have an agent or health care surrogate under a power of attorney or other document, your agent can exercise your rights as allowed by your documents.

In addition, when you move into a nursing home, personal care home or family care home, you have special rights. These include:


Homes must tell you about your rights at or before admission. It must be in a language you understand and they must have you sign a written acknowledgment that you have been so informed. Homes must provide:
  • A written copy of your rights under Kentucky state law including information on your right to file a complaint and how to contact the long term care ombudsman and state survey agency.
  • Written information about services and the cost of those services.
    Homes must give you other information if requested. Homes must provide:
    • Access to the latest survey results and any plan of correction.
    • Access to all inspection reports.
    • Information on your medical condition, care and treatment.

Homes must respond to your needs and concerns, as expressed by you or your legal representative. You have the right to:
  • Choose your personal physician.
  • Receive full information, in advance, and participate in your care plan and treatment.
  • Voice grievances and recommend changes to staff as to the home's policy and service without reprisal.
  • Organize and participate in social, religious, and community groups.
  • Retain the use of your own personal clothing and right to be suitably dressed at all times and given assistance when needed so that you can maintain hygiene and good grooming.
  • Access a telephone at a convenient location for making and receiving telephone calls.
  • Be treated with consideration and respect.

You have the right to:
  • Have private meetings with inspectors from the Kentucky Office of Inspector General or the Cabinet for Health Services.
  • Have privacy during medical treatment, personal visits, written and telephone communications.
  • Have all of your records kept confidential.
  • Be assured of your visual privacy in multibed rooms and in tub, shower, and toilet rooms.
  • Have privacy when your spouse visits, or if spouse is a resident at the home, then you and your spouse can share the same room.

You may only be transferred for one of the following reasons:
  • The transfer is necessary to meet your welfare and your needs cannot be met in the facility.
  • Your health has improved so that nursing care is no longer needed.
  • The health or safety of others is endangered.
  • You have failed, after reasonable notice, to pay for your care.
  • The facility closes.
Notice of Involuntary Transfer or Discharge must be given in writing. You and your representatives have the following rights:
  • At least thirty days advance notice, or as soon as possible if immediate transfer is needed because of your immediate health needs.
  • Notice must include the reason for the transfer, the location to which you will be transferred, information concerning your right to appeal the transfer, and the name, address and phone number of the local and state long term care ombudsman program.
  • Information concerning bed-hold and your right to return to the next available semi-private bed if coverage ends, you need the services provided, and your care is paid for by Medicaid.
  • Preparation and orientation by facility staff to ensure safe and orderly transfer from the facility.

You have the right to receive visitors and to refuse visitors. Federal law provides for:
  • Immediate access by personal physician and representatives from state and federal agencies, including the ombudsman program.
  • Immediate access by relatives, if you consent.
  • Immediate access by others with "reasonable" restrictions.
  • Reasonable visits by groups, subject to your consent.
  • Access by ombudsman to records with your consent.

Discrimination in treatment of residents is prohibited and applicants for admission are protected from fraudulent activities. Facilities must:
  • Have identical policies regardless of source of payment.
  • Provide information on how to apply for Medicaid.
  • Not request, require or encourage residents to waive rights concerning Medicaid.
  • If your facility is a Medicaid provider, not transfer or discharge solely because payment source has changed from private pay to Medicaid.
  • Not require a guarantor of payment.
  • Not charge, solicit, accept or receive gifts, money, donations or other “considerations" as a precondition for admission or continued stay for persons eligible for Medicaid.

You have the right to manage your own money. If you request the facility to manage your funds, the facility must:
  • Keep your funds and facility funds separate.
  • Keep and give you complete and accurate accountings, at least quarterly, and upon request.
  • Not charge for services or items covered by Medicaid.
  • Upon your death, turn funds over to the administrator of your estate.
  • Purchase a surety bond or provide other assurance of security.

You are protected from physical, mental and sexual abuse and the inappropriate use of physical and chemical restraints, except in emergencies or if thoroughly justified in writing by a physician for a specified and limited period of time. It must be documented in your medical record. You are protected, by law, from:
  • Physical or mental abuse, corporal punishment, or involuntary seclusion.
  • Restraints used for discipline or convenience of staff.
  • Restraints used without a physician's written orders to treat medical symptoms.
  • Drugs used to control mood, mental status, or behavior without a written physician's order in the plan of care for a specific medical symptom. An independent, external expert must annually review the appropriateness of the prescriptions.
A physical restraint is any manual method or physical or mechanical device, material, or equipment attached or adjacent to your body that you cannot remove easily, which restricts freedom of movement. A chemical restraint is a drug used for convenience or discipline and not required to treat medical symptoms.

Restraints may be imposed only to ensure the physical safety of the resident or other residents.

The nursing home must try to minimize the use of restraints. The nursing home should try less restrictive alternatives before resorting to the use of restraints. Where appropriate, occupational and physical therapy should be consulted first. A restraint should function as an "enabler" which betters your quality of life. You and your family should receive a full explanation before a restraint is used.

The facility must monitor whether the restraint causes you any adverse mental, physical or psychosocial effects. If it does, the facility must attempt to eliminate those effects, either by removing the restraint, or by finding a more acceptable means to treat your condition

You are to be free from any unnecessary drugs. Antipsychotic drugs cannot be given to you except to treat a specific condition. The facility must also try, if possible to discontinue antipsychotic drugs through gradual dose reduction and behavioral treatment.

Ask your doctor if you have questions concerning restraints. You can also call your local long term care ombudsman.

Reviewed August 2009