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Your rights as a nursing home resident in New York

The law in the State of New York provides various rights for resident of nursing homes, including the right to:

  • dignity, respect and a comfortable living environment

  • quality of care and treatment without discrimination

  • freedom of choice to make your own, independent decisions

  • be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home

  • the safeguard of your property and money

  • appeal a transfer or discharge with the New York State Department of Health

  • privacy in communications

  • choose your own schedule, activities and other preferences that are important to you

  • receive visitors of your choosing at the time of your choosing

  • an easy-to-use and responsive complaint procedure

  • be free from abuse including verbal, sexual, mental and physical abuse

  • be free from restraints

  • exercise all of your rights without fear of reprisals


State and federal regulations require nursing homes to have written policies covering the rights of residents.

The nursing home's staff must implement these policies and explain them to you.

Any person requiring nursing home care should be able to enter any nursing home and receive appropriate care, be treated with courtesy and enjoy continued civil and legal rights.

This booklet describes your rights and the responsibilities nursing homes have for ensuring those rights.

The basic right of any nursing home resident is to be treated with dignity and respect. All other rights support this basic premise.

The New York State Department of Health is committed to ensuring that every nursing home resident's rights are protected and supported.

This booklet is designed to provide information so that residents, and their loved ones, are aware of these rights. It is important that residents and their representatives communicate regularly with nursing home staff to ensure a meaningful, respectful, and helpful environment.

Dignity and Respect

Resident Rights

You have the right to:

be treated with dignity, respect and consideration at all times;

privacy in the treatment and care of your personal needs;

choose activities, schedules and health care consistent with your interests and plan of care;

communicate with and have access to people and services inside and outside the facility;

be consulted when the facility sets policies about your rights and responsibilities and about aspects of your life in the facility;

staff assistance in interpretation of your rights.

Nursing Home Responsibility

The nursing home must:

ensure that you are treated as an individual and encourage you to participate in programs and services of your choice;

provide you with safe, clean and comfortable rooms and surroundings;

protect you from any kind of harsh and abusive treatment;

provide you privacy in communicating and associating with people of your choice;


You have the right to:

nondiscrimination in admissions;

equal access to quality care;

apply for Medicare or Medicaid benefits;

the absence of a guarantee of payment from another person or source other than yourself for admission or continued stay.

Nursing Home Responsibility

The nursing home must:

provide you with access to quality care by exercising identical policies and practices covering the provision of all required services, regardless of your source of payment; obey all pertinent state and local laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals entitled to Medicaid benefits, and give explicit advice to you concerning your right to nondiscriminatory treatment in admissions (State regulations prohibit discrimination against individuals entitled to Medicaid benefits);

fully inform you and your designated representative both verbally and in writing (in a language that you understand) of your rights and all facility rules and regulations governing your conduct and your responsibilities during your stay. This information must be given to you prior to or upon admission and during your stay. You must acknowledge receipt of this information in writing. The facility must also post a summary of this information.

The nursing home must not:

require a third-party guarantee of payment as a condition of admission, expedited admission or continued stay in the facility;

charge, solicit, accept or receive (in addition to any amount otherwise required to be paid by third-party payors) any gift, money donation or other consideration as a precondition of admission, expedited admission, special room assignment or continued stay in the facility, beyond the amount needed for prepayment of basic services for up to three months;

require you to waive your rights to Medicare or Medicaid;

require verbal or written assurance that you are not eligible for, or will not apply for, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.

The nursing home may:

require a relative or other designated representative to sign a contract to provide facility payment from your income or resources, without your representative incurring personal financial liability;

charge you, if you are eligible for Medicaid, only for those items and services you requested and received that are not specified at the time of admission as included in the nursing home's basic services;

solicit, accept or receive a charitable, religious or philanthropic contribution from an organization or from a person unrelated to you, provided that the contribution is not a condition of admission, expedited admission, special room assignment or continued stay in the facility.

Life at the Facility

You may always exercise your rights as a citizen or resident of the United States and New York State, including your right to:

vote, with arrangements made by the facility;

action for damages or other relief for deprivations or infringements of your right to adequate and proper treatment and care;

exercise your civil and religious liberties, including the right to independent personal decisions and knowledge of available choices;

be free from verbal, sexual, mental or physical abuse, corporal punishment and involuntary seclusion, and free from chemical and physical restraints except those restraints authorized in accordance with nursing home minimum standards; this includes but is not limited to doctor's orders, specified time periods, close monitoring, periodic re-evaluation of need, conferring with a family member or designated representative and documentation in the record;

meet with and participate in activities of social, religious and community groups at your discretion.

Resident Council

you have the right to participate in the established resident council at the facility.

Access to Information

You have the right to:

examine the results of the most recent federal or state survey of the facility including any statement of deficiencies, any plan of correction in effect with respect to the facility and any enforcement actions taken by the New York State Department of Health (Results must be made available for examination in a place readily accessible to you);

receive information from agencies acting as residents' advocates and be given the opportunity to contact these agencies;

request, or have a designated representative request, and be provided information concerning your specific assignment to a resident classification category for purposes of linking reimbursement to the intensity of your care;

inspect, upon verbal or written notice, within 24 hours records pertaining to you, and with two working days' notice purchase and receive photocopies of such records. The cost of reproduction may not exceed 75 cents per page.


You have the right to:

voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal;

prompt resolution of your grievances including those with respect to the behavior of other residents;

recommend changes in policies and services to facility staff and/or outside representatives, free of interference, coercion, discrimination, restraint or reprisal from the facility.


You have the right to:

locked storage space upon request in your room;

share a room with your spouse, relative or partner when the spouse, relative or partner lives in the same facility and you both consent to the arrangement; be assured of privacy for visits when a spouse, relative or partner resides outside the facility;

retain, store securely and use personal possessions, including furnishings, and appropriate clothing, as space permits, provided the rights or health and safety of other residents are not infringed.


You have the right to:

receive kosher food or food products, upon request, when as a matter of religious belief you wish to observe Jewish dietary laws.


You have the right to:

perform services only when:

you can safely perform the services;

the facility documents the need or desire for work in your plan of care;

the plan specifies the nature of the services performed and whether the services are voluntary or paid (Compensation for the paid services must be at or above prevailing rates and you must agree to the work arrangement described in your plan of care);

refuse to perform services for the facility.

Nursing Home Responsibility

The nursing home must:

furnish you with a written description of your legal rights including:

a description of how the facility protects your personal funds;

a statement telling you that you may file a complaint with the facility or the New York State Department of Health concerning resident abuse, neglect, mistreatment and misappropriation of your property in the facility (This statement must include the name, address and telephone number of the office established by the New York State Department of Health to receive complaints and of the New York State Office for the Aging Ombudsman Program);

record and periodically update the address and telephone number of your designated representative or interested family member;

provide immediate access to you by:

any representative of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services;

any representative of the New York State Department of Health;

your own doctor;

ombudsmen who are duly certified and designated by the New York State Office for the Aging;

representatives of Disability Rights of New York (which protects and advocates for developmentally disabled individuals and mentally ill individuals);

immediate family and other relatives, with your consent, subject to your right to deny or withdraw consent at any time; and

other individuals who are visiting, with your consent, subject to reasonable clinical and safety restrictions and your right to deny or withdraw consent at any time;

provide reasonable access to you by an entity or individual that provides health, social, legal or other services, subject to your right to deny or withdraw consent at any time; encourage your voluntary choice of activities and assist you in the participation of all social activities in which you wish to engage by:

transporting you to and from in-house activities as needed;

encouraging you to participate in and helping maintain your invovement in community, religious and/or social activities including the organization of trips outside the facility; posting a copy of the monthly activities schedule and providing you with a copy upon request.

Advise veterans and the spouses of veterans in writing of the contact numbers for the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs, the nearest Veterans Service Agency and the nearest accredited Veterans Service Officer.

Resident Council

The nursing home must:

encourage you to participate in the facility's resident council and encourage you to take part in decision-making processes and make recommendations that could improve the quality of life in the facility;

ensure that you receive resident council meeting notices and that you are given assistance in transport to and from meetings, if such assistance is needed;

describe and promote the function and organization of the resident council to maximize your participation;

after consultation with the resident council, assign to the council a staff person who is acceptable to the members of the resident council;

ensure that members of the governing body make themselves available to hold meetings with representatives of the resident council at least three times a year to discuss matters contained in a jointly developed agenda;

ensure that the Quality Assessment and Assurance Committee provides consultation on at least a quarterly basis with the resident council to seek recommendations on quality improvements.

Family Council

when a family council exists, inform families of the existence of the council upon admission and at least quarterly. The notice should include the dates, times and place of the family council meetings and a person to contact regarding involvement in the council.

Access to Information

The nursing home must:

promptly notify you when there is:

a change in your room assignment (This requires prior notice unless you requested or agreed to the change, your medical condition requires a more immediate change, an emergency situation develops or there is a need to alter your treatment significantly. Then, you must be immediately informed, your doctor consulted and your designated representative or an interested family member notified);

a change in roommate assignment (This must be acceptable, where possible, to all affected residents);

a change in resident rights under federal or state law or regulations as specified in the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York;

inform you of the facility's visiting hour policies, which are to be in compliance with the New York State Department of Health mandates for residential health care facilities (at least 10 hours within a 24-hour period, including at least two meal periods) and which must be posted.


The nursing home must:

inform you upon your admission about the complaint and recommendation procedure; ensure that a method is in place to respond within 21 days to your complaints or grievances and recommendations.


The nursing home must:

arrange for you to share a room with your spouse, relative or partner when you are both residents in the facility and both consent to the shared arrangement; ensure privacy for visits by your spouse, relative or partner if they do not reside in the facility;

provide you space for storage and placement of your personal possessions as follows: possessions my include some furnishings if such meet government fire safety and health code regulations;

if sufficient storage space is not available in your room, your possessions may be stored in other areas of the facility (if such space is available) at the option of the nursing home or the home will help you find other space;

provide a lockable drawer and/or locked storage area (upon your request) in your room or within your immediate area. Staff should help you store your possessions.


The nursing home must:

provide kosher food or food products prepared in accordance with orthodox Jewish religious requirements when, as a matter of religious belief, you wish to observe Jewish dietary laws;

offer substitute menu items at your request;

provide assistance with eating and special eating equipment or assistive devices and utensils if needed.


The nursing home must:

accept your request to perform services, when work is available, under the following conditions:

you must make your request known to the facility staff, nursing staff or doctor;

your need or desire for work must be documented in your plan of care, along with the nature of the services to be performed, whether or not you are deemed able to safely perform the work described, whether or not you will be compensated for your services, and whether or not you have signed the work arrangement described in your plan of care, showing your agreement with it;

you must be compensated for your work at or above the prevailing rate for like services.


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