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What Are Residents’ Rights in a Nursing Home?

Nursing home residents have clear legal rights under Wisconsin law. As a resident or resident’s family member, it is important to be familiar with these rights—and to know when you can (and should) seek help. Unfortunately, while nursing home residents’ legal rights are clear, violations are common. Nursing homes often fall far short of meeting their obligations; and, in doing so, they put their residents in harm’s way.

The nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan are passionate about protecting the rights of elderly residents at nursing homes, assisted living homes, and memory care facilities. If you or a loved one was harmed by a nursing home professional, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.

Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Under Wisconsin Law

Nursing home residents’ rights under Wisconsin law include

Private and Unrestricted Communications 

In Wisconsin, nursing home residents have the right to “[p]rivate and unrestricted communications with the resident’s family, physician, . . . attorney, and any other person unless medically contraindicated as documented by the resident’s physician . . . .” This includes the right to send and receive sealed and unopened letters, have private phone calls, and have private visits.

Present Grievances Without Fear of Reprisal 

Nursing home residents have the right to present grievances to staff, administrators, public officials, and other individuals “without justifiable fear of reprisal.” Residents are entitled to the same protections whether they speak up individually or work with their co-residents to seek improvements in their care or living conditions.

Management of Financial Affairs 

All nursing home residents in Wisconsin have the right to manage their own financial affairs. Nursing homes cannot require access to their residents’ finances; and, if a resident needs to delegate responsibility for managing his or her personal finances, the resident is entitled to select a family member or other individual of their own choosing.

Information About Services and Costs 

Wisconsin law requires that nursing homes provide all residents with complete and accurate information about their services and fees in advance. Nursing homes must provide this information in writing. If a nursing home changes its services or fees during a resident’s tenure, it must also provide advance notice of the changes in writing.

Courtesy, Respect, and Dignity 

Under Wisconsin law, nursing homes have a duty to treat all residents “with courtesy, respect and full recognition of the resident’s dignity and individuality.” This duty applies to all nursing home staff and administrators, including (but not limited to) certified and registered health care providers.

Physical and Emotional Privacy 

Nursing home residents in Wisconsin have the right to “[p]hysical and emotional privacy in treatment, living arrangements and in caring for personal needs.” This right to privacy includes (but is not limited to) the right to:

  • Private visits with the resident’s spouse or partner 
  • Private consultations regarding the resident’s health condition and care 
  • Confidentiality of the resident’s health care and personal records 

Nursing home residents also have the right to keep their clothing and other personal items private and secure. Caregivers and other staff members cannot require access to residents’ personal effects or take residents’ private belongings.

Social, Religious, and Community Involvement 

Unless their doctors have said otherwise in writing, nursing home residents have the right to participate in social, religious and community activities at their discretion. Nursing homes cannot isolate residents or prevent them from associating with individuals or groups of their choosing.

Adequate Care, Notice, and Choice of Health Care Providers 

Wisconsin nursing home residents have the right to “adequate and appropriate care within the capacity of the [nursing home].” Residents also have the right to receive diagnosis and treatment from a licensed, certified, or registered provider of their own choosing; and, in all cases, they have the right to be fully informed and participate in the planning of their treatment and care.

Freedom from Mental and Physical Abuse 

Wisconsin law is clear that nursing home residents are entitled to be “free from mental and physical abuse, and be free from chemical and physical restraints except as authorized in writing by a physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse prescriber for a specified and limited period of time and documented in the resident’s medical record.” If you or a loved one has experienced any form of nursing home abuse (or if you have questions about what constitutes nursing home abuse), you should speak with a lawyer promptly. Abuse is never okay, and an experienced lawyer can help protect your (or your loved one’s) health, psychological wellbeing, and legal rights.

Talk to a Madison Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for FREE

The Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan represent residents of nursing homes, assisted living homes, and memory care facilities throughout Wisconsin. If you would like to speak with a lawyer, we invite you to get in touch. 

Please contact us today at 608-268-0268 or [email protected] to arrange a FREE case evaluation.