Nursing Home Residents' Rights Protected by Law

posted Feb 1, 2011, 11:57 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 1, 2011, 12:04 PM ]

Citizens and residents of the United States, including those living in nursing homes, are granted many rights that are protected by law. Many take rights for granted unless they are taken away. A few of these rights include the following:


1.      To have privacy when receiving care.

2.      To be properly covered when receiving personal care.

3.      To be treated with dignity and respect.

4.      To have call bells answered in a timely manner.

5.      To make and receive phone calls in privacy.

6.      To have a compatible roommate.

7.      To feel free to voice concerns or complaints without fear of retaliation.

8.      To visit with guests in privacy.

9.      To receive mail unopened.

10.  Respect of privacy by staff knocking before entering the room.

11.  To have visitors at convenient times

12.  To have a locked space for valuables.

13.  To participate in care plan conferences

14.  To choose a food alternative

15.  To be given 48 hours written notice on room or roommate changes.

16.  To choose a personal physician and /or pharmacy.

17.  To keep and use personal possessions.

18.  To be free from verbal, sexual, physical and mental abuse, corporal punishment or involuntary seclusion.

19.  To be free from the use of restraints.

20.  To refuse treatments, including medications

21.  To be permitted to participate in activities of choice.

22.  To have the opportunity to vote.


Residents of nursing homes sometimes believe they lose rights upon entering a nursing facility; have to follow the nursing home’s “rules” or their rights may be arbitrarily taken from them. The only way any person can lose the rights that our laws provide is if they are taken through the judicial process or with the changing of a law.  


The State Ombudsman Program staff and volunteers visit residents in long-term care facilities to insure their rights are being protected and to advocate for the residents.  Volunteers are needed in Clinton, Thomas, Elk City, Altus, Hollis and Snyder. For more information, please contact Christi Christian, R.N. or Samantha Lankford, ombudsman supervisors, at the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority Area Agency on Aging at 580-821-0153/580-821-4068, or by email at christi@swoda.org/sjones@swoda.org.