A Guardian’s Right to Visit….Any Time.

Federal law sets forth a “bill of rights” for nursing home residents. Among them: A resident “has a right to receive visitors of his or her choosing at the time of his or her choosing, subject to the resident’s right to deny visitation when applicable, and in a manner that does not impose on the rights of another resident.” 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(f)(4).   This is as it should be; after all, for the resident the nursing home is their “home.” They should be able to receive visitors in their home just like the rest of us.

Recent changes to the federal regulations now provide, specifically, that the resident’s legal representative (including a guardian) has the right to immediate access to the resident at any time. 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(f)(i)-(iv). This can be an important right for guardians, particularly while in the midst of investigating care concerns.

Let’s say you have a client in a nursing home and last time you visited you noticed that their teeth were gross, their fingernails were dirty and they were malodorous. You learn that the evening shift is responsible for ensuring that your client is bathed and their bedtime tasks are addressed, but the problems persist. You’ll likely want to visit your client towards the end of the evening shift, say about 11 p.m., to see what’s going on, right?

Visitation rights are important for a nursing home resident. The specific right of a guardian to visit at any time is a necessary one if we expect the guardian to do their job well.

About H. Kennard Bennett

Ken Bennett is a partner in the elder law firm of Bennett & McClammer and is Founder & Team Leader at Scout Guardianship Services. He also founded and serves as Executive Director and Senior Counsel to the Center for At-Risk Elders, Inc., a public interest law firm that, among other things, operates the CARE Volunteer Advocates Program, providing guardianship services to low-income, unbefriended, incapacitated adults.

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