Although they project the image of home and family in the many ads splashed across TV screens and billboards alike, nursing homes are a business. People pay the facilities money so that they will provide care for their residents. Because they are taking on the responsibility of care for others for payment nursing homes owe their residents a reasonable standard of care.
Federal regulations classify nursing homes into four separate categories based on the level of care they deliver. With the lowest level of care given being adult boarding facilities and the highest being skilled nursing facilities. Although what is considered a reasonable standard of care changes with the level of care being offered by a facility and whether the facility receives Medicare or Medicaid funding there are several regulations that must always be met regardless of the level of care being offered.
All nursing home residents have the right to see family members and others such as physicians or government workers. A reasonable standard of care included allowing the resident to choose their own physician as well as their own treatment plan including refusing treatment. Residents can't be restrained or given drugs to restrain them if it is not part of the medical treatment. Residents may also keep and use personal possessions and must be informed of their rights prior to being admitted into a nursing facility.
Those nursing facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid money must also follow the federal requirements for long term care facilities. A violation of any of the proscribed regulations may be used as evidence of negligence in a civil suit.
Source: FindLaw, "Legal Rights of Nursing Home Residents," accessed on Nov. 25, 2014