Resident Rights

Protecting resident rights

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law was instrumental in transforming the mindset of long-term care providers and creating the modern senior living realm as we know it today. The law places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and independence guaranteeing them a quality of life that is similar to living in a community at large. Many states, such as Wisconsin, have adapted their own set of regulations regarding resident rights in the assisted living facility as seen below:

DHS 83.32 Rights of residents.

(1)  Legal rights.

(a) Section 50.09, Stats., establishes specific rights for CBRF residents and prescribes mechanisms to resolve resident complaints and to hold the CBRF licensee accountable for violating resident rights. Other statutes, such as s. 51.61 and chs. 54, 55, 155 and 304, Stats., and ch. DHS 94 may further clarify or condition a particular resident’s right, depending on the legal status of the resident or a service received by the resident. The licensee shall comply with all applicable statutes and rules.

(b) The licensee shall protect the civil rights of residents as these rights are defined in the U.S. Constitution, the Wisconsin Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and all other applicable federal and state statutes.

(2) Explanation of resident rights, grievance procedure and house rules.

(a) Before the admission agreement is signed by the resident or the resident’s legal representative or at the time of admission, the CBRF shall provide a copy of and explain resident rights, the grievance procedure under s. DHS 83.33 and the house rules to the person being admitted, the person’s legal representative, and family members of the person. The resident or the resident’s legal representative shall be asked to sign a statement to acknowledge the receipt of an explanation of resident rights. The CBRF shall document the date and to whom the information was provided.

(b) The CBRF shall post copies of resident rights, grievance procedure and house rules in a prominent public place available to residents, employees and guests.

(3) Rights of residents. Any form of coercion to discourage or prevent a resident or the resident’s legal representative from exercising any of the rights under this subchapter is prohibited. Any form of retaliation against a resident or the resident’s legal representative for exercising any of the rights in this subchapter, or against an employee or any other person who assists a resident or the resident’s legal representative in the exercise of any of the resident rights in this subchapter, is prohibited. The rights established under this subsection do not apply to a resident in the legal custody of a government correctional agency, except as determined by a government correctional agency. In addition to the rights under s. 50.09, Stats., each resident shall have all of the following rights:

(a) Communications. Make and receive telephone calls within reasonable limits and in privacy. The CBRF shall provide at least one non-pay telephone for resident use. The CBRF may require residents who make long distance calls to do so at the resident’s own expense.

(b) Confidentiality. Confidentiality of health and personal information and records, and the right to approve or refuse release of that information to any individual outside the CBRF, except when the resident is transferred to another facility or as required by law or third-party payment contracts and except as provided in s. 146.82 (2) and (3), Stats. The CBRF shall make the record available to the resident or the resident’s legal representative for review. Copies of the record shall be made available within 30 days, if requested in writing, at a cost no greater than the cost of reproduction.

(c) Free from labor. Not be required by the CBRF to perform labor that is of any financial benefit to the CBRF. The CBRF may require personal housekeeping of the resident without compensation if it is for therapeutic purposes and is part of, and clearly identified in the resident’s individual service plan.

(d) Freedom from mistreatment. Be free from physical, sexual and mental abuse and neglect, and from financial exploitation and misappropriation of property.

(e) Freedom from seclusion. Be free from seclusion.

(f) Freedom from chemical restraints. Be free from all chemical restraints.

(g) Freedom from physical restraints. Be free from physical restraints except upon prior review and approval by the department upon written authorization from the resident’s primary physician or advanced practice nurse prescriber as defined in s. N 8.02 (2). The department may place conditions on the use of a restraint to protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of the resident.

(h) Receive medication. Receive all prescribed medications in the dosage and at intervals prescribed by a practitioner. The resident has the right to refuse medication unless the medication is court ordered.

(i) Prompt and adequate treatment. Receive prompt and adequate treatment that is appropriate to the resident’s needs.

(j) Treatment options. Participate in the planning of care and treatment, be fully informed of care and treatment options and have the right to refuse any form of care or treatment unless the care or treatment has been ordered by a court.

(k) Self-determination. Make decisions relating to care, activities, daily routines and other aspects of life which enhance the resident’s self reliance and support the resident’s autonomy and decision making.

(L) Least restrictive environment. Have the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve the purposes of the resident’s admission. The CBRF may not impose a curfew, rule or other restriction on a resident’s freedom of choice.

(m) Recording, filming, photographing. Not be recorded, filmed or photographed without informed, written consent by the resident or resident’s legal representative. The CBRF may take a photograph for identification purposes. The department may photograph, record or film a resident pursuant to an inspection or investigation under s. 50.03 (2), Stats., without his or her written informed consent.

(n) Safe environment. Live in a safe environment. The CBRF shall safeguard residents from environmental hazards to which it is likely the residents will be exposed, including both conditions that are hazardous to anyone and conditions that are hazardous to the resident because of the residents’ conditions or disabilities.

Pro Tip:

  • Develop a committee of residents, such as a resident council, to assist with the upholding of resident’s rights. Use this council to get a pulse of the community and stay in touch with what your residents are going through.
  • Work with the Department of Health and Family Services and the local ombudsman closely to promote the standards of resident rights within your community.