Your Rights as a Resident in a Nursing Facility

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
As in all facilities, there are rules and procedures to keep things running smoothly; however, you do have specific legal rights as a resident of a nursing facility. This list is a summary of your rights taken from Kentucky and Federal law and regulations. If you have questions about your rights, please ask that they be explained to you.

You have at least the following rights:

  • You have the right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility.

  • You have the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising your rights.

  • If you have been found mentally disabled under State law, your rights are exercised by your guardian.

  • Prior to and during your stay at the facility, you must be informed, both orally and in writing in a language that you understand, of your rights and all rules and regulations governing your conduct and responsibilities. You must let the facility know in writing that you got this information and the facility must keep that in your file.

  • Upon oral or written request, you or your legal representative have the right to access all your records within 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). You may purchase photocopies (with the first copy being free of cost to you) of your records upon request and 2 working days advance notice to the facility.

  • You have the right to be fully informed, in a language you can understand, of your total health status, including but not limited to, your medical condition.

  • You have the right to refuse treatment, to refuse to participate in experimental research, and to make an advance directive.

  • If you are entitled to Medicaid benefits at the time you are admitted to the facility, or when you do become eligible for Medicaid benefits, the facility must inform you in writing what you can and can’t be charged for.

  • Before, or at the time of your admission, and at times during your stay, the facility must inform you of services available in the facility and of charges for those services. You must acknowledge in writing getting this information and the facility must keep that in your file.

  • The facility must prominently display in the facility written information, and provide you with oral and written information, about how to apply for and use Medicare and Medicaid benefits and how to receive refunds for previous payments covered by such benefits.

  • You, your physician, and your legal representative or an interested family member must be notified IMMEDIATELY of any serious accident, significant change in your health or mental status, or a decision to transfer or discharge you from the facility.

  • You and your legal representative or interested family member have the right to receive prompt notice before there is a change in your room or roommate assignment.

  • You have the right to manage your financial affairs, and the facility may not require you to deposit your personal funds with the facility.

  • If the facility does manage your funds, they must keep everything over $50 in a separate account, such as a petty cash fund. The facility must keep your money apart from the facility’s money. The facility must give you or your legal representative an accounting of your money quarterly or upon request.

  • If you are receiving Medicaid benefits, the facility must notify you when the amount in your account comes within $200 of the Medicaid limit and what this does to your eligibility.

  • The facility must purchase a surety bond to assure the security of all your funds deposited with the facility.

  • You have the right to choose your personal attending physician.

  • You have the right to be fully informed in advance about your care and treatment and of any changes in your care and treatment. You have the right to participate in planning your care and treatment.

  • You have the right to personal privacy (including accommodations, medical treatment, letters and telephone calls, personal care, visits, and meetings of family and resident groups.) Your personal and clinical records must be kept confidential. The facility is not required to provide a private room for you.

  • You may approve or refuse the release of your personal and clinical records to anyone outside the facility except when you are transferred to another health care institution or when law requires release of your records.

  • You have the right to voice complaints without discrimination or consequence, and the facility must make prompt efforts to resolve your complaints.

  • You have the right to examine the results of the most recent survey of the facility conducted by Federal or State surveyors, including any plan of changes to the facility, as well as all inspection reports on the facility.

  • You have the right to refuse to perform services for the facility unless you choose, or the need or desire for work is documented in your plan of care.

  • You have the right to privacy in written letters, including the right to send and promptly receive mail that has not been opened by someone else.

  • You must be allowed immediate visits by representatives from the Federal or State governments, your individual physician, representatives from the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, and, if you wish, your immediate family or other relatives.

  • Representatives of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program must be allowed by the facility to examine your medical and social records if you or your legal representative allows.

  • You have the right to have reasonable access to the use of a telephone where calls can be made without being overheard.

  • You have the right to keep and use your personal things, including some furnishings and clothing, as space permits, unless to do so be harmful to the rights or health and safety of their residents.

  • If you are married, you should get privacy for your spouse’s visits. If you and your spouse are both residents in the facility and both consent, you may share the same room. You have the right to give yourself drugs if it has been determined that this practice is safe.

  • You must be permitted to stay in the facility and not be transferred or discharged unless it is necessary for your welfare, your needs can not be met in the facility, the safety or health of other people would be endangered or for not paying your bill. Notice of your transfer or discharge must be given to you at least 30 days in advance. You may appeal a transfer or discharge to the Cabinet for Health Services within 15 days of getting the notice.

  • The facility must not require residents or potential residents to give up their rights to Medicare or Medicaid.

  • The facility can’t require a third party guarantee of payment as a condition of getting in or staying in the facility.

  • The facility can’t charge, ask for, take or give any gift, money, donation, or other things to assure admission or continued stay in the facility.

  • You have the right to be free from any physical or chemical restraints given for purposes of discipline or convenience and not required to treat your medical symptoms.

  • You have the right to be free from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.

  • The facility must promote care for you in a manner and in an environment that keeps or improves your dignity and respect and individuality, including privacy in treatment and in care for your personal needs.

  • You have the right to organize and participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of other residents.

  • You have the right to live in the facility with reasonable accommodation of your individual needs and preferences, except when the health or safety of you or other residents would be endangered.

  • You shall be encouraged and helped to exercise your rights as a resident and a citizen. You may voice complaints and recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff and to outside representatives of your choice free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.

  • The facility must return your valuables, your personal things, and any balance of money from your account to you at the time of your transfer or discharge from the facility. In case of your death, these items must be returned to your responsible party or family member, your guardian, or your executor.

  • Unless you have been found mentally disabled under State law, you cannot be kept against your will. You must be allowed and encouraged to go outdoors and leave the premises as you wish, unless a real reason is given and written down for refusing such activity.

  • You must be assured of at least visual privacy in multibed rooms and in tub, shower, and toilet rooms.

  • You have the right to be suitably dressed at all times and helped when needed in keeping clean and grooming.

  • You have the right to have private meetings with the nursing facility inspectors from the Cabinet for Health Services.

  • If any of your rights are denied to you or infringed upon, you can take legal action against the facility responsible for the violation. You may be entitled to get actual and punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, costs of the action, and other relief as determined by the court.

  • The Facility shall conspicuously post a listing of your rights and responsibilities under State law.

  • The facility shall have written procedures for the submission and resolution of complaints and recommendations by you and your responsible party or your responsible family member or your guardian and shall conspicuously display these policies.


Reviewed August 2009