Nursing Home Residents' Rights

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When the federal government passed the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, nursing home residents were guaranteed certain rights. In Georgia (as well as in many other states), there are Bills of Rights for residents of nursing homes, which require nursing homes to meet these minimum federal requirements. Georgia law also requires nursing homes to be responsive and adequate to the needs of its citizens, assure that new health care services and facilities are efficiently and effectively used, continue to meet high quality standards, and assure that all residents receive humane, courteous, and dignified treatment. Nursing home residents have the following rights:

  • To live within the least restrictive environment possible in order to retain their individual and personal freedom.
  • To be free from verbal, mental and physical abuse; corporal punishment; and involuntary seclusion.
  • To be free from actual or threatened physical restraints, isolation or restrictions on mobility, within or outside the facility grounds, including the use of drugs to limit mobility, except to the minimum extent necessary to protect the resident from immediate injury to the resident or to others. In no event shall restraints, restrictions or isolation be used for punishment, incentive, behavior conditioning or modification, or for the convenience of the facility.
  • To have safe, decent, and clean living conditions.
  • To be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of dignity and individuality, including privacy in treatment and care of personal needs.
  • To choose his or her own physician.
  • To be fully informed by a doctor of his or her medical condition, unless medically contradicted.
  • To fully participate in the overall planning of his or her care and treatment.
  • To refuse medical treatment as permitted by law and to be informed of the consequences of refusing medical treatment.
  • To have significant changes in the resident's health status reported to the persons of his or her choice.
  • To refuse to participate in experimental research.
  • To retain personal possessions and clothing as space permits.
  • To have unimpeded, private, and uncensored communication with anyone of the resident's choice by mail, public telephone, and visitation, during normal visitation hours, which shall be for at least twelve continuous hours per day.
  • To have privacy in the resident's room or the resident's portion of the room. The staff may not enter a resident's room without making their presence known, except when the resident is asleep, in an emergency threatening the health or safety of the resident or as required by the resident's care plan.
  • To have a private room and a personal sitter if the resident pays the difference between the facility's charge and the amount reimbursed through Medicare or Medicaid.
  • To have private visits with the resident's spouse or, if both spouses are residents of the same nursing home, to share a room, if medically feasible.
  • To refuse acceptance of correspondence, telephone calls, or visitation by anyone.
  • To receive respect and privacy in his or her medical, personal and bodily care program. Each resident's case discussion, consultation, examination, treatment, and care shall be confidential and shall be conducted in privacy.
  • To receive confidential treatment of the resident's personal and medical records.
  • To participate, inside and outside the facility, in social, family, religious, and community group activities.
  • To the free exercise of religion as well as freedom from imposition of religious beliefs or practices.
  • To vote in primary, special and general elections and in referenda, provided the resident is otherwise eligible to vote.
  • To manage personal financial affairs or to delegate that task to another person of the resident's choosing and to withdraw and use funds from any personal account established for him or her at the facility.
  • To be fully informed of available services and related charges.
  • To be encouraged and assisted to exercise rights as a patient and as a citizen and to voice grievances and recommend changes in policies and services to staff members or outside representatives without interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.
  • Not to be required to perform services for the nursing home.
  • To be transferred or discharged only for medical reasons, or for the resident's own welfare or the welfare of other residents, or for nonpayment (except as prohibited by Medicaid), and to be given reasonable advance notice of transfer or discharge.
  • To be fully informed, as evidenced by a written acknowledgment, prior to or at the time of admission and during the stay, of all these rights and all rules and nursing home regulations that govern personal conduct and responsibilities.