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:

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