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October Highlights Rights of People Living in Nursing Facilities

Roseann MartocciaRoseann MartocciaA person living in a long term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community. We are fortunate to have quality facilities in our area which do their best to support residents, provide quality care and respect residents. Nursing facilities are licensed by the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) and must meet the federal residents’ rights requirements if they participate in Medicare or Medicaid. As required by law, nursing homes are required to “promote and protect the rights of each resident,” placing a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice and self-determination.

The overarching standard that nursing facilities are required to meet is “to provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care that… is initially prepared, with participation, to the extent practicable, of the resident, the resident’s family or legal representation.” Residents’ rights span many domains and they are the same rights and protections one would expect to have in their home or apartment. In addition, rights are protected that affect services, living with others in a residence and changes within the facility and/or leaving the facility.

There are seven broad categories which encompass resident rights. They are:

  1. Right to be Fully Informed of any and all services and charges, rules and regulations, contact information for the State Ombudsman and state survey agency (MA DPH), the facility’s survey report and correction plan, advance plans of a change in room or roommate, assistance if a sensory impairment exists, and information in one’s first language.
  2. Right to Complain: A grievance may be presented to staff or other party without fear of reprisal and with an expectation of prompt resolution; complaints may also be made to the ombudsman program or the certification entity.
  3. Right to Privacy and Confidentiality includes private and unrestricted communication, private treatment and care as well as all matters relating to personal and financial affairs.
  4. Rights during Transfers and Discharges include a 30-day notice, safe transfer or discharges and the right to stay unless care of the resident or others is in jeopardy.
  5. Right to Dignity, Respect and Freedom and to be treated with consideration, respect and dignity, free from all types of abuse and to be assured of security of possessions and self-determination.
  6. Right to Visits from any person of the resident’s choice as well as the right to refuse visitors.
  7. Right to make Independent Choices regarding personal decisions, care providers and managing one’s own affairs.

Resident Rights are guaranteed by the federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. Read more at

Contact LifePath at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ask questions about how to choose a nursing facility.

Volunteers in the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program are advocates for those living in rest homes and nursing homes. Learn more about the program and how to become a volunteer here or by contacting Trevor Boeding, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Director, at 413-773-5555x2241 or 978-544-2259x2241 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..