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Resident Rights
Know Your Resident Rights and Protections

Help your elderly loved one stay independent and in charge of their care. Older people want real choices and the responsibility to choose the best possible lifestyle for them.

Families and seniors: Know that every assisted living facility must carry out a Residents' Bill of Rights.

A quote by an elderly person from the book, Person Centered Thinking with Older People, authored and collaborated with Helen Bowers, Gill Bailey, Helen Sanderson, Lorna Easterbrook and Alison Macadam, "You spend your whole life making decisions about things - your work, your relationships, your children - you don't want to suddenly give up that responsibility because you're older."

Note to Residents and Family

Residents living in an assisted living community, older adults, have rights to make decisions about how they want to live and be cared for, no matter where they call home. For family members, you may or at some point become a relative's legal guardian; the person who makes decisions for the loved one.

Be an empowered guardian.

Assisted living should provide each resident with the help one needs, so the person can do more for themselves and continue living with the favorite things and activities, around supportive peers and staff.

The facility promises to tailor services to meet a person's needs and wants and to help the resident make good decisions about their lives.

Your Resident Service Plan

Stay Involved in Service Plan
Stay Involved in Service Plan

Get involved and control your care plan.

  • How many services you receive,
  • How often you receive them,
  • Who provides the service,
  • How the care's delivered.

During your visit to an assisted living facility and before you decide to move in, take a close look at the care plan. Many assisted living residences have a plan that says what the staff will do for each resident and sets a schedule to give this help.

The Service Plan comes lists all the resident's needs. It's important to see the service plan-and help write and update it.

Make sure it reflects your needs and wants. Take a look at this resource for help and direction before moving to an assisted living facility.

The family and staff want to protect you. But you may feel it's a burden being watched over so carefully. Share with the family and assisted living staff what you want to do and the decisions you want to make for yourself.

It's your right.

Search for the Best Place to Live

Checklist for Visiting
Checklist for Visiting

When searching for an assisted living community, begin with your current needs. Prepare questions to ask the facility and how they accommodate as a resident's needs change. Every community is unique. (Assisted Living Federation Association) recommends making several visits at various times of day to each community you are considering.

Ask the community for written material, including copies of the residency agreement that outlines, at a minimum, services, fees, extra charges, move-in and move-out criteria, staffing, and house rules. Download this checklist designed by and take with you to evaluate a facility.


Each resident or the resident's designated representative be given a copy of the resident's rights and responsibilities before move-in. The Bill of Rights must state that residents have the right:

  1. To be treated with dignity and respect;
  2. To be given informed choice and opportunity to select or refuse service and to accept responsibility for the consequences;
  3. To participate in their initial care/service plan and any revisions or updates at the time changes occur;
  4. To receive information about the method for evaluating their service needs and assessing costs for the services provided;
  5. To exercise individual rights that do not infringe upon the rights or safety of others;
  6. To be free from neglect, financial exploitation, verbal, mental, physical, or sexual abuse;
  7. To receive services in a manner that protects privacy and dignity;
  8. To have prompt access to review all of their records and given photocopies. Photocopied records be promptly provided, but in no case require more than two business days (excluding Saturday, Sunday, and holidays);
  9. To have medical and other records kept confidential except as otherwise provided by law;
  10. To associate and communicate privately with any individual of choice, to send and receive personal mail unopened, and to have reasonable access to the private use of a telephone;
  11. To be free from physical restraints and inappropriate use of psychoactive medications;
  12. To manage personal financial affairs unless legally restricted;
  13. To have access to and participate in social activities;
  14. To be encouraged and assisted to exercise rights as a citizen;
  15. To be free of any written contract or agreement language with the facility that purports to waive their rights or the facility's liability for negligence;
  16. To voice grievances and suggest changes in policies and services to either staff or outside representatives without fear of retaliation;
  17. To be free of retaliation after they have exercised their rights provided by law or rule;
  18. To have a safe and homelike environment;
  19. To be free of discrimination in regard to race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or religion; and
  20. To receive proper notification if requested to move out of the facility, and be required to move out only for reasons stated in 50-State Assisted Living Facilities Law:

Termination and Transfer Grounds and given an administrative hearing, if applicable.

Residents' Rights

Resident Rights
Resident Rights

While living in a nursing home or a long-term care facility, entitles a resident to receive quality care, experience quality of life, and exercise their rights.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law requires each nursing home to care for its residents in a manner that promotes and enhances the quality of life of each resident, ensuring dignity, choice, and self-determination.

In addition to this federal law, some states have residents' rights in state law or regulation for nursing homes, licensed assisted living, adult care homes, and other board and care facilities. Included in these guaranteed rights is the resident's right when visited by family and friends.

Basically, a person living in a long-term care facility maintains the same rights as an individual in the larger community. Read the Long-Term Care Rights.

Elder Rights: Safeguards for the Most Vulnerable Among Us, designed by the Administration on Aging (AoA).

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.