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Essential Residents Rights

Entering a nursing home is a huge life change and the process can be intimidating. However, just because a person moves into a nursing home does not mean they give up their rights or freedom. In fact, nursing home residents are protected under both federal and state law and the homes are required to inform their residents of these rights while protecting and promoting them at the same time. If a resident is incapable of exercising his or her rights, the person designated by law, such as conservator, or in most cases, a family member may exercise these rights.

Dignity and Privacy

The resident has the right to:

Be treated with consideration, respect and full recognition of dignity and individuality. This includes the right to:

  • privacy during treatment and personal care

  • receive and make phone calls in private

  • send and receive mail unopened

  • associate privately with persons of resident's choice, inside or outside the facility.

Free Choice and Participation

The resident has the right to:

  • Choose activities and schedules consistent with his or her interests and care plan and to receive services with reasonable accommodation of individual needs and preferences.

  • Participate in resident groups and in activities of social, religious and community groups.

  • Communicate with persons of one's choice inside or outside of the facility.

  • Retain and use personal clothing and possessions as space permits if it doesn't infringe upon the rights or health and safety of other residents.

Access and Visitation

The resident has the right and the facility must provide subject to the resident's right to deny or withdraw consent at any time immediate access to any resident by:

  • Immediate family or other relatives of the resident.

  • Others who are visiting with the consent of the resident, subject to reasonable restrictions.

  • The facility must provide reasonable access to any resident by any entity or individual that provides health, social, legal or other services to the resident.

  • If a resident is married, he or she and their spouse must be assured privacy and to be able to share a room if both are residents in the facility and both agree to the do so.


The resident has the right to:

  • Exercise rights, voice grievances, and recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff and/or outside representatives of the resident's choice, free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination or reprisal.

  • Prompt efforts by the facility to resolve grievances the resident may have, including those having to do with other residents.

Condition and Treatment

The resident has the right to:

  • Be fully informed by a physician of his or her total health status and to be afforded the opportunity to participate on an immediate and ongoing basis in the total plan of care.

  • Be fully informed in advance about care and treatment and of any changes in care or treatment that may affect the resident.

  • Participate in planning care and treatment or changes in care or treatment unless adjudged incompetent or otherwise found to be incapacitated under State law.

  • Self-administer medications unless doing so would be dangerous.

  • Choose a personal attending physician.

  • To consent to or refuse any treatment or procedure or participation in experimental research.

  • To receive all information that is material to his or her decision concerning whether to accept or refuse any proposed treatment or procedure.

Protection of Resident Funds

The resident has the right to:

  • Manage his or her financial affairs. The facility may not require residents to deposit their personal funds with the facility although a resident can if he or she so desires.

  • Have funds entrusted to the facility held separately from the funds of the facility and from those of other residents, and have an accurate accounting of those funds. Funds over $100 must be held in an interest-bearing account.

  • Be informed when the amount in the resident's account, if managed by the facility, reaches the $2000 Medi-Cal resource limit which may cause the resident to be disqualified from Medi-Cal.

Transfer and Discharge

The resident has the right to be transferred or discharged only if:

  • He or she has recovered to the point of not needing nursing home care.

  • It is necessary for the resident's welfare and her/his needs cannot be met in the facility.

  • The health or safety of others is endangered.

  • He or she has failed to pay for care.

  • The facility ceases to operate.

Chemical and Physical Restraints and Abuse

The resident has the right to:

  • Be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.

  • Be free from any physical or chemical restraints; either psychotherapeutic or antipsychotic drugs imposed for purposes of patient discipline or staff convenience which are not required to treat the resident's medical symptoms, except in an emergency which threatens to bring immediate injury to the resident or others.

  • Based on a comprehensive assessment of a resident, the facility must ensure that:

  • Residents who have not used anti-psychotic drugs are not given these drugs unless antipsychotic drug therapy is necessary to treat a specific condition.

  • Residents who use antipsychotic drugs receive gradual dose reductions or behavioral programming in an effort to discontinue these drugs, unless clinically contraindicated.

  • The facility must ensure that each resident's drug regimen is free from unnecessary drugs.

Resident Records

The resident has the right to:

  • Personal privacy and confidentiality of his or her personal and clinical records.

  • Review all records pertaining to the resident upon oral or written request within 24 hours, and to purchase photocopies of these records with two days advance notice.

  • Approve or refuse release of records to any individual or agency outside the facility except when transferred or required by law.


To find out more about nursing home right or to start the process of long-term care planning, give us a call at Elder Law Services of California (855) ELDER LAW for a FREE consultation today!

Serving Our Community Since 1995

Elder Law Services of California, APLC provides the same strategic planning and legal representative of larger firms, yet in a personalized, family-like manner. Our priority is to provide the highest level of legal services and client satisfaction when representing your Medi-Cal Planning, Estate Planning, Trust Administration, or Probate cases. Above all, we understand the importance of you and your family’s financial future and legal security.

Our team of Attorneys and legal support staff have assisted thousands of different families by giving them the freedom to plan for the security of their future, while also providing peace of mind with our experienced legal advice. As our name, Elder Law Services of California, APLC serves all families in California, with convenient locations throughout Los Angeles, as well as locations in Northern California, and San Diego.

Whether you need to qualify for Medi-Cal, pay for long-term care, create an estate plan and powers of attorney, proceed a conservatorship, protect your assets, or deal with the loss of a loved one, our team is there for you every step of the way. Sadly, many families are unprepared for any significant planning for their future, so take the first step today to protect your family’s integrity.

Elder Law Services  of California, APLC.
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