Residents' Rights

Random banner image

Residents' Rights in Nursing Home & Long-Term Care Facilities

When admitted to a long-term care facility, an individual maintains his or her rights as a citizen and also gains a special set of residents' rights, which are mandated by federal and state law. Residents' rights in each type of long-term care facility (nursing home, assisted living, and homes for the aged) are provided below.


Nursing Home Residents

According to Section §483.12(a)(3)and (5) Tennessee Statutes, nursing home facilities shall adopt and make public a statement of the rights and responsibilities of the residents and shall treat such residents in accordance with the provisions of that statement. Each resident shall have the right to: 

  • Civil and religious liberties
  • Private and uncensored communication
  • Visitation by any individual providing health, social, legal, or other services and the right to deny or withdraw consent at any time
  • Present grievances and recommend changes in policies and services free from restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal. Includes the right to have access to the ombudsmen and other advocacy groups
  • Organize and participate in resident groups
  • Participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of others
  • Examine the results of recent facility inspections by federal and stage agencies including the plan of correction if applicable
  • Manage his/her own financial affairs
  • Refuse medication and treatment and to know the consequences
  • Receive adequate and appropriate health care, protective and support services within established and recognized standards
  • Privacy in treatment and in caring for personal needs
  • Be informed of medical condition and proposed treatment and be allowed participation in planning
  • Be treated courteously, fairly, and with the fullest measure of dignity
  • Be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and from physical and chemical restraints except those ordered by resident's physician
  • Be transferred or discharged only for medical reasons, the welfare of other residents, or nonpayment of a bill
  • Receive a 30-day written notice of discharge or relocation, and challenge such notice
  • Choose physician and pharmacy
  • Retain and use personal clothing and possessions
  • Have copies of rules and regulations of the facility
  • Notification prior to room change
  • Information concerning bed-hold policy for hospitalization

Nursing home discharge and transfer [§483.12(A)(2)]: Before the transfer or discharge occurs, the law requires that the facility notify the resident and, if known, the family member, surrogate, or representative of the transfer and the reasons for the transfer, and record the reasons in the clinical record. This notice must be provided at least 30 days prior to the transfer and must include an explanation of the right to appeal the transfer to the state as well as the name, address, and phone number of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

Federal law also prevents nursing homes from discharging (removing) or transferring (moving to another facility) a resident except for the following reasons:

  • The resident's welfare cannot be met at the facility
  • The resident's health has improved sufficiently so the resident no longer needs the services provided by the facility
  • The health or safety of individuals is endangered
  • The resident has failed, after reasonable and appropriate notice, to pay or have paid under Medicare or Medicaid for residence at the facility
  • The facility closes

The facility is required to provide sufficient preparation and orientation to residents to ensure safe and orderly discharge from the facility [§483.12(a)(6)]. For assistance with filing an appeal, click here. For residents who receive Medicare, click here for information on discharge planning in the nursing facility setting.


Residents of Assisted Living & Homes for the Aged

No resident of a facility shall be deprived of any civil or legal rights, benefits, or privileges guaranteed by law, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, or the Constitution of the United States as a resident of a facility. Every resident shall have the right to:

  • Live in a safe and decent living environment, free from abuse and neglect 
  • Be treated with consideration, respect, and with due recognition of personal dignity, individuality, and the need for privacy 
  • Retain and use his/her own clothes and other personal property 
  • Unrestricted private communication including receiving and sending unopened correspondence, access to a telephone, and visiting with any person of his or her choice 
  • Participate in and benefit from community services and activities to achieve the highest possible level of independence, autonomy, and interaction with the community 
  • Manage his/her own financial affairs unless the resident (or the resident's legal representative) authorizes the administrator of the facility to provide safekeeping for funds 
  • Share a room with a spouse if both are residents of the facility 
  • Reasonable opportunity to exercise and to go outdoors at regular and frequent intervals 
  • Adequate and appropriate health care consistent with established and recognized standards 
  • Exercise civil and religious liberties including personal decisions. No religious beliefs, practices, nor attendance at religious services, shall be imposed on any resident 
  • Present grievances and recommend changes in policies, procedures, and services to the staff of the facility without restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal. This right includes access to ombudsman volunteers and advocates and the right to be a member of, to be active in, and to associate with advocacy or special interest groups


Additional Resources

boy with tray of food
decorative rings decorative rings decorative rings

Donate to MIFA

At MIFA, we believe everyone deserves independence, dignity, and hope.

Make a Donation