Resident Rights in Virginia Nursing Homes

Your loved one does not give up his or her basic civil and legal rights when your loved one moves into a nursing home or other long-term care facility in Virginia. In fact, they enjoy specific, additional rights that state law (Va. Code § 32.1-138) and federal law (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987) guarantee. These rights are designed to protect the quality of care that residents receive as well as their overall quality of life.

Here, we provide a summary of 10 basic rights of nursing home residents in Virginia under state and federal law. If you believe that a nursing home has violated any of these rights, and your loved one has suffered injury as a result, you should contact Marks & Harrison without delay. As one of the oldest and largest personal injury law firms in Virginia, we will know how to protect your loved one and pursue full compensation for any physical, emotional and financial harm that your loved one has suffered. We can provide a free consultation through our office in Richmond or through any of our nine other offices located throughout the state.

  1. The right to be fully informed. A nursing home must inform residents of their rights before or at the time of admission as well as upon request. The facility must also provide information that includes:
    • The facility’s policies and procedures concerning the rights of its residents
    • Contact information for Adult Protective Services and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
    • Services available to them and any related charges, including charges that are not covered by the facility’s basic rate or by Medicaid.
    • The findings of any past Centers for Medicare & Medicaid surveys or investigations.
  2. The right to be free from neglect. A nursing home resident must receive the necessary care and services that will allow the resident to attain or maintain their “highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being.” In other words, the resident’s condition should never suffer due to sub-standard care and treatment.
  3. The right to be free from abuse. Under no circumstances should a nursing home resident ever suffer harm from physical, emotional or sexual abuse, including the unnecessary use of physical or chemical restraints. In fact, a facility may only restrain a resident when it is necessary to protect his or her safety or the safety of other residents. Even then, unless it is an emergency, the facility may use physical restraints only with a doctor’s written order and for a limited time period.
  4. The right to fully participate in his or her care plan. A physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner must fully inform the resident of his or her medical condition, and the resident must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the planning of his or her care plan. Additionally, the resident has the right to refuse treatment. No contract or agreement for nursing home care can restrict or prohibit a resident from applying for and receiving Medicaid assistance.
  5. The right to manage his or her own personal business affairs. A resident may manage his or her personal funds. The resident may also authorize, in writing, a nursing home to manage those funds. If this occurs, the resident is entitled to receive financial statements on a quarterly basis or upon request.
  6. The right to privacy. A nursing home must assure confidential treatment of the resident’s personal and medical records. Additionally, the facility must respect the resident’s right to private written and phone communications. The resident also has the right to enjoy visits with others in privacy, including his or her spouse. If the resident and spouse are both inpatients in the facility, they may share a room unless there is a documented medical reason why they should not do so.
  7. The right to be treated with consideration, respect and full recognition of his or her dignity and individuality. Residents have the right to accommodation of their medical, physical, psychological and social needs. They also have a right to self-determination. They may associate and communicate privately with persons of their choice, and they may meet with and participate in activities of social, religious and community groups at their discretion. Additionally, a resident may use his or her personal clothing and possessions unless there is some medical reason why they should not. A resident can never be forced to work.
  8. The right to voice grievances. A resident has the right to complaint and make suggestions without discrimination or reprisal. Additionally, the resident may join others in organizing, maintaining and participating in a residents’ group or “council.” The facility must listen to the group’s complaints and make an effort to act upon the group’s suggestions.
  9. The right to remain in the nursing home. A nursing home may discharge or transfer a resident only when:
    • It is necessary to meet the resident’s documented medical needs.
    • It is appropriate to protect the resident or other residents from physical or emotional injury.
    • The resident has failed to pay.
    • The resident no longer needs nursing home care.
    • The facility is closing down.
    • The resident (or the resident’s authorized decision maker) gives informed voluntary consent after having received reasonable advance written notice.

    Unless it is an emergency, the nursing home cannot discharge or transfer a resident without prior consultation with the resident, resident’s family and the resident’s doctor. A nursing home may never use a discharge or transfer to retaliate against a resident who voiced a grievance or filed a complaint.

  10. The right to a legal representative. If a resident suffers from a disability that prevents him or her from making medical decisions, a legal representative may be appointed. The legal representative must be consulted by the nursing home as required by law.

Our Lawyers Protect the Rights of Virginia Nursing Home Residents

If you have any reason to believe that a nursing home in Virginia has violated your loved one’s rights and caused him or her to suffer harm, you should immediately contact our Virginia personal injury attorney at Marks & Harrison. We will always make your loved one’s rights, safety and interests our top priority. To learn more, call or reach us online today and allow us to review your case in a free consultation.