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Room and Roommate Changes  

Do nursing home residents have any rights concerning their room or choice of roommate?

Yes. If you live in a Medicare or Medicaid approved nursing home, you have certain rights concerning your room and roommates. You have the right:

  • To refuse a room transfer in some situations.
  • To receive advance notice before any allowable room transfer.
  • To share a room with a compatible roommate.
  • To share a room with your spouse if you both agree.

When can I refuse a room transfer suggested by the nursing home?

In a Medicaid/Medicare certified facility, all beds are Medicaid approved. But, all beds may not be Medicare approved. In order to be eligible for Medicare payment, you must be in a bed or section of the home approved by Medicare. The nursing home must give you written information explaining your Medicare coverage.

If your Medicare payments are exhausted and another method of payment begins, you have the right to refuse a room transfer if the purpose is solely to move you out of a Medicare-approved section.

Under federal law, a transfer into or out of a Medicare-approved section of the home is treated as if the nursing home was transferring you to another facility. Unless you consent to the transfer, you have a right to written notice and a hearing with the Healthcare Facilities Regulation Division if the home insists that you be moved.

This process can be extremely confusing to residents and their families. Please call your community ombudsman if you have questions.

What notice must the nursing home give me if it wants me to change rooms?

A Medicare or Medicaid approved nursing home must give you advanced written notice before your room or roommate is changed. The home should also explain why the change is necessary. The Medicare and Medicaid rules do not say how much advance notice is required.

What if I am being moved to a different room for another reason?

A Medicare or Medicaid approved nursing home must give you advance notice before your room or roommate is changed. The home should also explain why the change is necessary. The Medicare and Medicaid rules do not say how much advance notice is required.

Can I choose my roommate?

Medicare and Medicaid approved homes must try to accommodate any reasonable needs or preferences you express. This requirement applies to all issues under the control of the nursing home, including choices regarding roommates. If you and another resident want to share a room, you should be able to do so when a room becomes available unless medical reasons make this arrangement inappropriate.

Even if you do not select a specific roommate, the nursing home should try to place you in a room with a compatible roommate(s). Keep in mind that it is often difficult to know in advance whether roommates will get along. Your roommates have rights also, and they cannot be required to move to another room just because you ask. If you are unhappy about your current roommate, you should discuss your concerns with the nursing home social worker. He or she should work with you and your roommate to address your concerns.

What if my spouse and I live in the same nursing home?

You and your spouse have the right to share a room if you both agree to this arrangement.

Nursing homes are not required to allow "consenting adults" to share a room. However, the home must explain their policies on room sharing requests before admission. If the home's policy allows consenting adults to share a room, it should honor your request.

What are my rights if my nursing home is not approved by Medicare or Medicaid?

Nursing homes that do not participate in Medicare or Medicaid are often called private pay nursing homes. These homes must meet Georgia's licensing standards for nursing homes but, are not required to meet the same federal standards that Medicare/Medicaid certified homes must meet.

If you live in a private nursing home, you have fewer rights concerning rooms or roommates. However, Georgia law does require private nursing homes to provide you with Georgia's Residents' Rights protections. To meet this requirement, private nursing homes should not transfer you from your room without your consent unless it is absolutely necessary. You should also expect to be told in advance about any changes the home is planning.

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