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Rights of People Living in Nursing Homes


Residency in a nursing home, or assisted living facility, does not mean that an individual has loses all of his or her rights. Residents are guaranteed certain rights, protections, and privileges, including the following:

  • Rights to safety and good care.
    • The facility must be clean,
    • Freedom from abuse of any type (physical, mental, verbal, sexual),
    • Freedom from chemical and physical restraints, except under very limited circumstances (permission must be given, and it must be for safety reasons, not for the convenience of the staff).
  • Rights to participate in the care received.
    • The right to refuse treatment,
    • The right to have a written care plan and to take part in the care plan conference, and to have designated relatives or friends take part in care planning.
  • Rights to privacy.
    • Medical and personal care are private, and staff must respect that privacy,
    • Facility staff must knock before entering a resident’s room,
    • The right to private visits, private phone calls, and unopened mail, and
    • Married couples have a right to share a room, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so, (or there is no room available).

There are other rights, including rights regarding money, personal property, contracts for care and the right to ask for help in dealing with facility problems or problems in dealing with other agencies or with family.

Families, friends, and guardians can best support nursing home residents by:

  • Visiting residents often,
  • Participating in the resident Care Plan Conferences, and
  • Contacting an Ombudsman if problem solving efforts within the facility fail.

For help in addressing residents rights and care concerns, contact the Ombudsman program:

Also, go to the following:

Nursing homes in Southern Illinois are listed in our Aging and Disability Resource Guide.

The official Medicare website has information on Patients Rights, Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, Nursing Home Compare, and more.

Find information about the Spousal Impoverishment Prevention program on our website.


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