Main Takeaways on Nursing Home Visitation Rights:
- Generally, nursing homes cannot place limitations on a resident’s right to have visitors.
- Unless the resident’s doctor indicates in writing that visiting with a particular person would be harmful to the resident, that visitation can be prohibited.
- The resident gets to decide who visits with them and when.
- If the guardian believes that a visitor will harm the resident or will attempt to take advantage of the resident, visitation can be denied.
Living in a nursing home, perhaps away from family and friends, can be a lonely experience. Nursing home residents often enjoy visits from loved ones, and are rejuvenated by such visits. It is important to know what rights your loved one has with regards to visitation. Illinois Citizens for Better Care is an advocacy group for nursing home residents. The group has prepared a fact sheet on resident’s visitation rights, which can be found in full here. In summary, it is important to know the following:
Generally, Residents Can Visit with Whomever They Want, Whenever They Want
As a general rule, nursing homes are not permitted to place limitations on a resident’s right to have visitors, and indications to the contrary can be a sign of abuse. By federal law, in nursing homes that accept federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, residents have a right to visitors any time they like, regardless of whether the nursing home has posted visitation hours. The nursing home facility is the resident’s home, and as such, the resident may have guests at any time. Visitors can be whomever the resident chooses, and they can even be present during the resident’s personal care if the resident so desires.
Can a Nursing Home Restrict Visitors?
Nursing Home Visitation Prohibited by a Doctor or the Institution
Visitation can only be prohibited in limited circumstances under Illinois law. The state law provides that any visitor the resident wishes to see shall be permitted to visit the resident, unless the resident’s doctor has indicated in writing that visiting with this particular person would be harmful to the resident. The nursing home may also deny visitation in the limited circumstance that the nursing home believes a visit would threaten the health, safety, or property of any resident in the facility, or would threaten the safety of the facility itself.
Nursing Home Visitation Prohibited by the Guardian
For situations in which the resident requires a guardian, the guardian is permitted to make visitation decisions on behalf of the resident. The guardian should act as his or her title implies: as a guardian for the resident. If the guardian believes that a visitor will harm the resident or will attempt to take advantage of the resident, visitation should be denied. Furthermore, if the guardian and the nursing home both agree that the calling visitor should not be allowed to see the resident, the visitor will likely need a court order to see the resident.
Suspicion of an Illegally Denied Visit
In the event that a resident or visitor suspects that they have been illegally denied the right to visit, he or she may appeal the denial to the Illinois Department of Public Health by calling 217-557-2556, or faxing 217-557-3497, within 10 days of being denied visitation rights.
Learning More About Visitation Rights
If you are interested in learning more about nursing home resident’s visitation rights, you can call the Chicago Department on Aging nursing home resident ombudsman at 312-744-4016. You can also contact our Nursing Home Abuse Law Firm online or by telephone at (800) 350-0646 to discuss any concerns you may have regarding the visitation rights of your loved one.
Illinois Citizens for Better Care, Nursing home Residents Have a Right to Decide Who Will Visit Them and When, Chicago Department on Family and Support Services Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Fact Sheet