Family becomes the voice for those who are incapacitated.

Moving out of your home and into a congregate living situation means you sacrifice everything about your daily routine, your independence, your familiar surroundings, and many of the little choices that used to be a part of every day. All the things you took for granted and never thought about, now you can’t “just do it” because of a rule, or a schedule, or a limitation.
Residents and their families are given a piece of paper with a list of “Resident Rights,” but often the true meaning of these rights is not fully understood – by the family or even by the facility staff and management. The Social Worker is typically the staff person with the responsibility of reviewing and explaining these rights to the resident and the family. S/he is also responsible for assisting with ensuring these rights. In cases where the loved one is incapacitated, a “power of attorney,” “legal representative,” or “family representative” has the primary responsibility of exercising the rights of the nursing home resident on that person’s behalf. Other family members should work with that designated representative in addressing questions of resident rights for their loved one. Generally, nursing homes have a standard procedure of working with one primary family member in these cases. 

Every person who lives in a nursing home has human and civil rights, and specific “resident rights”. If the resident cannot speak for oneself, the family becomes the voice and observes for any signs that “something isn’t right.” The nursing home provides a copy of the resident’s rights. The family should become familiar with it and speak out if there is any question whether their loved one’s rights are being infringed upon at any time. Dignity, respect, self-determination, choices, and even being listened to are all critical issues. Quality of Life and Quality of Care are Resident Rights. Family members have the right to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.


If you only read one section of information offered on this website, this is the one you must read! This is what Our Mother’s Voice is saying, loud and clear, to everyone in a position to hear, on behalf of everyone who can’t speak out for herself (or himself). This is the change Our Mother’s Voice is advocating for in the care provided in nursing facilities across the country. 

While each state has its own “Bill of Rights of Residents” and its own “Health Licensing Regulations” (or an equivalent of these) which vary from state to state, all should include some reference to freedom from abuse; dignity and respect in treatment of residents; and participation in planning and care. Typically these rules and laws are vague and general, leaving much to interpretation by the surveying agency in determining compliance. Historically, surveyors seem to have been content with even the most minimal efforts which could conceivably be interpreted as approaching the letter of the regulation.
In nursing homes which accept residents whose care is paid by Medicare or Medicaid funding, the regulations are much more specific, and the surveyors are more particular about what they find acceptable. The nursing home may not fully realize that the regulations go beyond just those residents funded by federal programs. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, even if your loved one doesn’t receive Medicare or Medicaid funding, as long as the nursing home participates in the federal funding program, the facility must provide that quality of care and services to all residents – not just those receiving the Medicare or Medicaid funds. Here is what the Code of Federal Regulations has to say:

Confusion in Red

​Mixed Media on Canvas by Carol J. Hay

Resident Rights