Nursing Home / Resident’s Rights

How to receive the best care possible guaranteed by the law.

The National Senior Citizen’s Law Center (NSCLC) has written an article called, “20 Common Nursing Home Problems – and How to Resolve Them.” (June 2010) This is a valuable resource in choosing a nursing home or in understanding and asserting your rights as a nursing home resident. Residents’ rights are derived from The Nursing Home Reform Law, which is a federal law that applies to all states.

The following are a few of the more common problems discussed in the article. We encourage you to visit the website below for more information.

  • Residents and their family members have a right to participate in developing a care plan.
  • Nursing homes must make reasonable adjustments in meeting the residents’ needs and preferences. For example, residents should not be told that they must wake up early or take a bath at certain times. Residents’ preferences must be taken into consideration.
  • Medication may not be used to make residents more manageable; it may be used only when the behavior is caused by a diagnosed illness.
  • One important right to be aware of is that a resident’s family member may visit any time, day or night.
  • Therapy, when medically appropriate, should be provided regardless of the resident’s source of payment.
  • Evictions from nursing homes are allowed for only six limited reasons, and a 30-day advance notice is generally required.

Because of consumers’ unfamiliarity with nursing homes and the protections provided, residents and family members are often reluctant to speak up. For example, a resident or family member shouldn’t feel sheepish to ask that necessary therapy be provided, or that a resident be allowed to sleep longer in the morning. At times a resident or resident’s family may benefit from the assistance of an attorney or other advocate to help them. Being knowledgeable about the protections in the Nursing Home Reform Law will enable residents to have the high-quality care they deserve.

The complete article can be found at the NSCLC’s website at:

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.