Your Rights Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45, is intended to protect the rights of nursing home residents who may be vulnerable to exploitation, neglect or abuse. Under the statute, nursing home residents generally have the all of the rights that any other person has under Illinois law, federal law, or the state or United States Constitutions, and can’t be deprived of those rights solely because they live in a nursing home.
In general, every nursing home resident has the right to be free from abuse and neglect. In addition, the statute details a number of specific rights and protections for nursing home residents. Those include:
- Rights regarding spousal impoverishment. Spouses have the right to divide their assets when one of the spouses needs Medicaid payment to cover nursing home expenses. The spouse who does not need Medicaid is allowed to keep assets up to a certain dollar amount. Nursing homes in Illinois are required to notify nursing residents of these rights and how to apply for Medicaid.
- Right to manage your own finances. You must be given access to any money that a nursing home holds for you, and the nursing home must have your permission to spend any of your money. Anything more than $100 has to be placed in an interest-bearing account, and the nursing home must supply you or your representative a quarterly statement regarding your finances.
- Right to your personal property. You have the right to wear your own clothes and use your own personal property in your living quarters, unless there’s a medical reason that you should not. Any medical reason has to be documented, and any clothing the nursing home provides must fit you. The nursing home is required to provide adequate storage space for your personal property and to provide security for valuables to protect your personal property from loss or theft. You must be given access to your property.
- Right to your own physician. You have the right to use your own doctor at your expense or the expense of your health insurance. When you use your own doctor, the nursing home is not liable for any medical malpractice committed by that doctor.
Right to see your medical records. You have the right to complete and current medical information, including any diagnoses or treatments.
- Right to participate in your medical care and to refuse treatment. If you are able, you have the right to a say in your medical care, including the right not to be subjected to experimental treatments without your informed, written consent. Any treatment must be ordered by a physician, and you have the right to refuse any treatment.
- Right to respect and privacy in medical care. You have the right to confidential and discreet medical treatment, and to give your permission when anyone not directly involved in your medical care will be present at a consultation or examination.
Right to have a living will. If you have a “do not resuscitate” order or living will that indicates your desire regarding life-saving treatments, the nursing home must keep your order on file and honor it.
- Right to rescreening when admitted with serious mental illness. If you spend 90 days or more in a nursing home after being admitted with a serious mental illness, the nursing home must re-screen you after 90 days, 6 months, and then annually to assess your need for continued care. You must be advised of all other options for your care.
- Right to be free of physical or chemical restraints unless medically necessary. A physician must order use of restraints, and the medical need must be documented. You or your authorized representative must provide informed consent to the use of restraints unless needed for brief periods for life-saving care. Restraints may not be used for purposes of punishment or convenience.
- Right not to be given unnecessary drugs. You may not be given excessive doses of any drug, or administered a drug for an excessive duration, without a medical need and without appropriate monitoring. You or your guardian must give informed consent to the use of any psychotropic drugs.
- Right to receive private communications. A nursing home may not impede your receipt of emails, mail, or telephone calls, and may not censor your communications, unless there is a document reason, such as to protect you from harassment.
- Right to private visits. The nursing home must make sure that you can receive visitors during reasonable hours, unless there is a documented medical reason why you should not see visitors. The nursing home must provide space for visits, and must knock before entering your room unless it’s an emergency.
- Right to see your attorney or social worker. Your lawyer, any public agency employee, or member of the general public must be permitted access to you during reasonable hours when the visit is for the purpose of representing you, advising you of your rights, or making services available to you. Visitors must notify the nursing home of their presence, and identify themselves to you and receive your permission to enter your living space.
- Right to free exercise of religion. A nursing home must make accommodations for your religion and arrange for you to attend religious services of your choice. A nursing home may not force any religious practice or service on you.
- Right to be discharged from the nursing home. If you or your guardian give the nursing home administrator, doctor, or nurse written notice that you want to leave the facility, you must be discharged.
- Right to present grievances. You may present grievances on your own behalf or on the behalf of another resident to the nursing home administrator, Long-Term Care Facility Board, or another appropriate agency. The nursing home may not retaliate against you with a threat of discharge or other reprisal when you present a grievance. The nursing home must provide you with contact information for the appropriate office to present a grievance.
Right to refuse to perform labor. The nursing home is not allowed to require you to work for the facility.
- Right to be free from unlawful discrimination. The nursing home or its employees or representatives may not discriminate against you in violation of Illinois laws.
If you or a loved one has experienced a potential violation of any of these rights, you may have a claim for compensation of any actual injuries or damages suffered. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act allows you to sue the facility’s owner or licensee, and you may be able to receive compensation for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of normal life, and attorney fees. An experienced Chicago nursing home lawyer can talk to you about what happened and whether you may have a claim. Contact Jared Staver at for a free consultation today.