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Nursing Home Residents' Rights

Upon admission to a nursing home, a resident or his/her family will be required to sign an admission contract. Entering into a nursing home can thrust a family into emotional turmoil. A prospective resident or the family member or members responsible for the resident might feel pressure under emergency circumstances to sign a nursing home admission contract without a careful review of its terms. Do not be pressured. Read the contract and have it reviewed by an elder law attorney before signing. Federal and state laws have been enacted to protect individuals entering nursing homes and an experienced advisor can make sure that you get the benefit of these protections. For example:

  • A nursing home cannot require a resident to waive his/her right to apply for Medicaid. Furthermore, a nursing home cannot discriminate against a resident who is receiving Medicaid. Nursing homes must establish and maintain identical policies and practices regarding transfer, discharge and covered services for all residents regardless of source of payment.
  • A nursing home cannot require a third party guaranty of payment as a condition of admission or continued stay. A nursing home is allowed to require that an individual having legal access to a resident’s income and assets, such as an agent under a power of attorney, sign a contract, without the agent incurring any personal liability, promising to pay for a resident’s care from the resident’s funds.
  • A nursing home cannot require a resident to agree to pay privately for a specified period of time before the nursing home will “allow” the resident to convert to Medicaid.

Once admitted to a nursing home, a resident enjoys certain rights mandated by both federal and Pennsylvania law. For example:

  • A nursing home must conduct a comprehensive assessment of every resident’s functional capacity within 14 days of admission. This assessment must be used to develop, review and periodically revise, as necessary, an individualized plan of care for each resident. The resident, the resident’s family and, if desired, the resident’s legal representative must be given full opportunity to participate in the development of the plan of care.
  • A resident has the right to choose a personal attending physician and to be kept fully informed about care and treatment.