The myths surrounding the rights of residents in long-term care (LTC) communities are pervasive. There’s an assumption that when someone becomes a resident of an LTC community, they are saying goodbye to most freedoms, especially choice. Fortunately for residents, these myths are untrue.

Nursing Home Reform Act

The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 was passed to address neglect and abuse concerns in long-term care communities. This act established required services for residents and resident rights, which includes the right to choose:

  • regarding healthcare
  • visitors,
  • treatment,
  • refusal of treatment,
  • and more.

To be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid funding, an LTC community must be licensed and obligated to provide these services laid out in the Nursing Home Reform Act and uphold resident rights.

The Role of Ombudsmen

So what do residents and families do when LTC communities fall short? Who do they turn to when their rights are being ignored? Who will listen? That’s where VOYCE and the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program comes in.

Recognizing that residents need someone to stand up for these rights, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was created, establishing ombudsmen as advocates for LTC communities’ residents. Ombudsmen work with residents to resolve issues, address complaints, and are a voice for them, acting only with explicit permission. They educate residents, resident families, LTC community representatives, staff, and the community. Ombudsmen empower residents, providing compassion and support.

To put it simply, ombudsmen are the VOYCE for residents. Learn more about resident rights and the ombudsman program.


  1. 1
    Tom on April 18, 2022

    Does an assisted living facility have the right, without permission from the resident, to search a resident’s room for medications, if they suspect the resident is taking over-the-counter medications, not on the list of medications being dispensed by the facility?

    1. 2
      lsykes on April 20, 2022

      Hello, Tom. Thank you for reaching out. We would need a little more information about your specific situation to accurately answer your question. Please feel free to reach out to an ombudsman by phone or email to discuss your concerns:

  2. 3
    Jessica edens on July 25, 2022

    I’m in a nursing facility in bay city tx, its ridiculous how this place is ran, the administer is 23 yes old he’s a huge jerk even the staff hates him, they have rude cnas and nurses, your personal business is spread and known by all staff members, that’s a happy violation obviously. Every staff member knew my past and treated me horribly. The administer has accused me of some horrible things that are all complete blatant lies. When I asked who accused me he couldn’t tell me and no one else has heard these rumors including staff , the accusations are mentally stressful and very false. The staff even say how messed up everything is here they only stay because they close with the residents. My brother, my only family member is not allowed to visit due to past accusations years ago. I’ve been trying to get to see pain management for 2 myths, and still waiting, I have a cardiac consult, waiting for someone to find the time while I guess I just hope my heart holds up. I’ve been a victim of mental abuse and false accusations what can I do without them knowing I said this because I will only be treated worse , thank you.

    1. 4
      lsykes on August 1, 2022

      Jessica, I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you are facing. I would recommend reaching out to your ombudsman. The long-term care ombudsman is a free, confidential service. They can provide you with information on your rights and what options you have. Here is the contact information for the ombudsman in your area:
      Managing Local Ombudsman: Lisa Hayes
      Phone: 713-627-3200 or 800-252-2412

  3. 5
    Gerald Spears on January 29, 2024

    At a nursing home. Since been here haven’t seen doctor talked to anyone about my care or what is being done or going on. Left in dark about everything won’t talk to me or tell me what’s going on. Violating that. Won’t discharge me when asked saying at that time. Because I felt they were keeping me against my will because wouldn’t give me proper discharge. Saying well you can sign in and out and come and go as you please. Asked for grieving form because I was in pain orthopaedic problems and having severe pain and doctor only prescribed me tylenol and the nurse at med cart is nodding at cart and dropping pills all over with two black eyes and hurt hand. And Smoking cigarettes during smoke break nodding in front of us with cigarette in hand. I felt wasn’t right with her that way and in charge of people giving meds and care to elderly people I posted about her on Facebook about nodding nurse shouldn’t be in charge. And as soon as I did one nurse ran straight to that nurse telling her something and looking right back at me like her knew what I did and told her and another patient that knows all codes and stuff and opens and closes doors when they aren’t around so they won’t have to do it. But they tell her my problems I having Mental problems and stuff that happens. So the patient goes and runs her mouth to other patients and now I got evil looks and attitudes from staff and clients because I bitch and complain because I dont get treated proper or like anyone else and have to ask them do their job. Or upset because they have to do their job and when bich and complain about things only makes things worse. I rarely get water brought to my room or my laundry done like others do with theirs on hangers when mine is unfolded and just thrown in bag. Was having mental problems because they was pushing me to point I wanted hurt myself and was thinking cutting my wrist. So I told my case manager for mental health I was having problems because I could talk to him. And told him I never got searched or my property when came in and had my meds and sharps on my backpacks knife and long razor knife. But I had staff to get my meds and knifes. And I called police a little after that because that’s when was having psych issues being without meds for schizo affective bi polar type. Depression. But I refused to see their doctor for psych because I haven’t seen this doctor here since been here for over two months now. How am I supposed to trust that doctor. But I have to beg and plead get anything done they don’t even come bnb my room do anything just sweep and mop that’s it
    Me raising hell in there busting TV and they don’t even come in check on me ask me how I’m doing because they got me big brother. in that room they already knew and I can hear them talking and saying stuff about everything I do in there and it gets me upset and it gets me acting out and shit. Like they got vengeance against me retaliation because I complain and bitch and mess up their happy system. And they make other patients upset and stuff because of something I did and them telling other patients why something is different because of me and then I got staff and patients against me and I threaten them to call my lawyer and stuff. But I need help someone can speak up and talk for me that they listen and talk to let me know what’s going on with me and my care. Like they say I need nursing care but I can do everything only thing they do for me is give meds and bring tray. Be maybe 2 times month.

    1. 6
      Marjorie Moore on February 29, 2024

      It sounds like you are in need of an ombudsman. Please reach out to a member of our team who covers your area.

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