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Nursing Home Family Council Rights - Protect Family Rights

Nursing home family council rights are powerful rights in nursing homes, these family council rights protect family rights. The nursing home family council unlike the resident council is an organization within the nursing home whose members are usually family of residents living in the nursing home. Any family member can participate in the family council.

Family members have rights in nursing homes, family rights are not governed by nursing homes, and federal law governs family rights. The long term care ombudsman is mandated to protect family rights and family council rights in nursing homes and all other long term care facilities. Protecting family rights in nursing homes play an important part in the care of residents.

The family council is an advocate for residents' rights and quality care, the family council provides a vehicle for family members and friends to voice their concerns and request improvements for all residents.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act guarantees the families of nursing home residents a number of important family rights to enhance a loved one's nursing home experience and improve facility- wide services and conditions.

Join and support the family council at your loved one's facility. If the nursing home doesn't have a family council, join with other family members to form one or contact your long term care ombudsman. Remember to join or form a family council is your right and the long term care ombudsman is there to protect family rights as well as residents' rights.


Facilities certified for Medicare and Medicaid must provide a meeting space, cooperate with the council's activities, and respond to the group's concerns. Nursing facilities must appoint a staff advisor or liaison to the family council, staff and administrators have access to council meetings only by invitation. While the federal law specifically references "families" of residents, close friends of residents can and should be encouraged to play an active role in family councils, too.

Specifically, the federal law includes the following requirements on family councils

(a) A resident’s family has the right to meet in the facility with the families of other residents in the facility.

(b) The facility must provide a family group, if one exists, with private space.

(c) Staff or visitors may attend meetings at the group’s invitation.

(d) The facility must provide a designated staff person responsible for providing assistance and responding to written requests that result from group meetings.

(e) When a family group exists, the facility must listen to the views and act upon the grievances and recommendation of residents and families concerning proposed policy and operational decisions affecting resident care and life in the facility.

If you are interested in forming a family council and need more information, contact your local Long Term Care Ombudsman State’s Ombudsman.

Senior Housing Facility Options

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