Federal Basic Rights for nursing homes 

All Services Are Provided by Volunteers and All Are Provided Free of Charge

These federally guaranteed rights only apply to residents of nursing homes and their friends and families. As a nursing home resident in the United States of America, you do not give up any of your rights as an American Citizen when you move into a nursing home. In cases where a family member or friend holds a Power of Attorney and acts as the responsible representative of a person living in a nursing home, these rights apply equally to that responsible representative.

As a nursing home resident you have the right to:


  • CHOICES: Make choices in your daily schedule such as when to get up and go to bed, when and how often to bathe, which activities to attend or not attend.
  • VISITATION: See friends and family members whenever you chose. There are no visiting hours for family members or close friends.
  • TRANSPORTATION: Nursing homes must provide transportation to medical appointments including dental work covered by Medicaid. To view the federal regulations for dental work click here.
  • ADMISSION, TRANSFER, & DISCHARGE RIGHTS To view federal regulations on this subject click here.
  • Interact with members of the community both inside and outside of the nursing home  
  • Participate in independent Resident-run Groups  
  • Receive services with a reasonable accommodation of your needs and preferences  
  • Receive notice before a roommate or room is changed  
  • An activities program that accommodates your needs and preferences  
  • Live in a clean, safe environment  
  • Manage your own finances, or have them managed by a person of your choosing
  • Be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal from the facility in exercising your rights   
  • Access all of your records including current clinical records within 24 hours of either an oral or written request – you do not have to make a written request (excluding weekends and holidays)  
  • Purchase at a cost not to exceed the community standard, photocopies of the records or any portions of them upon request within 2 working days 
  • Be fully informed in language that you can understand of your total health status, including but not limited to your medical condition  
  • Refuse treatment, refuse to participate in experimental research, and formulate an advance directive  
  • Receive oral and written information about how to apply for and use Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and how to receive refunds for previous payments covered by such benefits   
  • Be immediately informed of a change in condition  
  • Be assured of personal privacy including accommodations, medical treatment, written and telephone communications, personal care, visits, and meetings of family and resident groups  


In Assisted Living Facilities and for those receiving long-term care services at home or in community-based settings there are no specific rights granted by the federal government other than those that apply to all American citizens.  Each state, however, may have laws or regulations guaranteeing certain rights.  In the case of Assisted Living Facilities, the State Tenant Laws might be helpful.