Elder Care: Discussions About the Quality of Life in Nursing Homes Should Be Encouraged

Resident Rights: Discussing Quality of Life

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are required to respond to the opinions of resident or family groups. Nursing home administrator may not discourage any kind of group meetings among residents.   Doing so is a violation of residents’ rights.  If a group of residents would like to gather to discuss areas where its facility needs to improve, the nursing home is required, by law, to respond to these grievances.
§483.15(c)(6) states that when a resident or family group exists, the facility must listen to the views and act upon the grievances and recommendations of residents and families concerning proposed policy and operational decisions affecting resident care and life in the facility. See F244 Quality of life: required facility responses to resident or family groups

Discussing Care with Family Members

A resident’s or family group is defined as a group that meets regularly to:

  • Discuss and offer suggestions about facility policies and procedures affecting residents’ care, treatment, and quality of life;
  • Support each other
  • Plan resident and family activities;
  • Participate in educational activities; or
  • For any other purpose

Communication is Important

The facility is required to listen to resident and family group recommendations and grievances.  Acting upon these issues does not mean that the facility must accede to all group recommendations, but the facility must seriously consider the group’s recommendations and must attempt to accommodate those recommendations, to the extent practicable, in developing and changing facility policies affecting resident care and life in the facility.  The facility should communicate its decisions to the resident and/or family group.
This requirement does not require that residents’ organize a residents or family group. However, whenever residents or their families wish to organize, facilities must allow them to do so without interference.  The facility must provide the group with space, privacy for meetings, and staff support.  Normally, the designated staff person responsible for assistance and liaison between the group and the facility’s administration and any other staff members attend the meeting only if requested. See Interpretive Guidelines §483.15(c)
Family members and residents have the right to engage in candid discussions about the quality of life a nursing home provides.  These discussions are a useful outlet, both for residents and for nursing home advocates.  If you have found a nursing home administrator or staff member has taken efforts to prevent group discussions or, worse, has ignored resident opinions, this is a violation of the law.  It is important to take steps to prevent nursing homes from silencing their residents. Contact our office today to discuss your concerns with one of our experienced Illinois elder care attorneys.