Nursing Home Resident Rights
Each person living in a nursing home has specific rights under the law.
Federal law mandates that each nursing facility must protect and promote the rights of each resident including:
- Rights to self-determination
- Personal and privacy rights
- Rights regarding abuse and restraints
- Rights to information
- Rights to visits
- Transfer and discharge rights
- Protection of personal funds
- Protection against Medicaid discrimination
Each community of nursing home residents also has rights.
Federal law requires that nursing homes provide all residents with the following:
- Quality of life
- Provision of services and activities
- Participation in facility administration
- Assuring access to the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
Resident and Family Councils
Nursing homes must have residents' councils.
Federal law requires that nursing homes assist in the establishment of resident councils. These councils provide a vehicle for resident participation in decision-making, grievances, and resolving differences. Resident councils need tremendous support to work effectively as mechanisms for resident participation. There is a similar requirement for resident councils in adult care facilities, too.
Many nursing homes have family councils.
A family council is a consumer group made up of the friends and relatives of people who live in a nursing home or adult care facility. The goal of family councils is to encourage family participation in improving the quality of life for their loved ones.
Adult Care Facilities such as assisted living and adult homes also may have resident or family councils. The Coalition for Institutionalized Aged (CIAD) has developed a resident council toolkit for adult care facilities.
Discharging a Resident
A 30 day notice must be given to a resident and/or their family before they are discharged or transferred to another facility.
A resident can only be discharged for certain, specified reasons. In addition, the resident must be given adequate notice and information on how to appeal their discharge, if they wish to stay in the facility. Ombudsmen can help a resident with the appeal process.
Staffing and Inspections
There is no minimum staffing ratio requirement for nursing homes.
In New York State the requirement is that staffing must be adequate to meet the needs of residents. If you are concerned about the staffing level in a facility, contact your Ombudsman.
New York State requires nursing homes to post a daily report of assigned staff in a public area.
Beginning in 2003, all nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are required to begin posting "in a clearly visible place" the number of nursing staff on duty on each shift. Those who must be included in the daily posting are: Registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse aides directly responsible for resident care.
Nursing homes are required to post their most recent inspection report in a public area.
In New York State, every nursing home receives an on-site survey from the New York State Department of Health. The summary results of the most recent survey must be posted in a public area. Any deficiencies may be noted in the following six categories: Administration, Quality of Care, Resident Rights, Dietary Services, Environment, and Other Services including dental, pharmacy and specialized rehabilitation. Anyone has the right to ask to view the full survey report from the facility. The survey reports are also available on line at the Department of Health Web Site.
Ombudsmen receive extensive training before being certified.
In New York State, Ombudsmen attend a minimum of 36 hours of training before becoming certified. This training covers the history of the Ombudsman program, the aging process including common illnesses and conditions, the long term care setting, residents' rights, communication, and the complaint process.
To learn more about becoming a LTCOP volunteer Ombudsman, call your local program at (855) 582-6769.
Every year the Administration on Community Living publishes data about the achievements and performance of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Of particular interest to Ombudsmen are the National Ombudsman Reporting System (or NORS) Data Tables.
The National LTCOP Performance link will bring you to the site where the most recent data is available along with previous year's reports and other information.
New York State Annual Data Summary
LTCOP Annual Report