Comprehensive Rights of a Resident in a California Assisted Living Community

If you are contemplating a move into assisted living, or if you are the adult child of an aging parent considering this type of transition, it is fundamental that you have access to a comprehensive list of the actual rights of a resident in a California assisted living community. This article has been prepared to provide you with a one-stop directory of all of the rights of a California assisted living resident as set forth in various statutes and regulations. 

In preparing this comprehensive glossary of rights of a California assisted living resident, we have made some textual changes to make these individual protections as clear as possible. In that regard, we have necessarily eliminated some of the so-called legalese contained in the statutory or regulatory language. However, we have made no alterations that change the meaning, intent, or implication of any of the rights afforded a resident of an assisted living community in the state of California. 

In the Mom’s Garden resource library, you will find other articles addressing the all-important rights of assisted living residents in California. With that said, we want to make sure that a prospective resident, an actual resident, and the family or a prospective or actual resident has a comprehensive resource that enumerates the important rights afforded a California residential care facility resident, including a person residing in assisted living. 

The specifically enumerated rights of a California assisted living resident are many.

Residents in privately operated residential care facilities for the elderly shall have all of the following personal rights:

  • To be accorded with dignity in their interpersonal relationships with staff, residents, and other persons.
  • To be accorded safe, healthful, and comfortable accommodations, furnishings and equipment and all times.
  • To have reasonable accommodation in accordance with their preferences concerning room and roommate choices or options.
  • To share a room with their spouse, domestic partner, or a person of their choice when both spouses, partners, or residents live in the facility and both individuals freely consent to the proposed arrangement.
  • To written notice of any room changes, said notice to be given at least 30 days in advance unless a room change is agreed to by the resident, required to fill a vacant bed, or necessary due to a true emergency.
  • To have access to individual storage space for private use by an assisted living resident.
  • To have a reasonable level of personal privacy in accommodations, medical treatment, personal care and assistance, visits, communications, telephone conversations, use of the internet, and meetings of resident and family groups – at all times.
  • To be free from punishment, humiliation, intimidation, abuse, or other actions of a punitive nature, such as withholding residents’ money or interfering with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping, or elimination.
  • To be free from neglect, financial exploitation, involuntary seclusion, punishment, humiliation, intimidation, and verbal, mental, physical, or sexual abuse.
  • To be protected from involuntary transfers, discharges, and evictions. An assisted living facility shall not involuntarily transfer or evict residents for reasons other than those permitted by state law or regulations. An assisted living facility shall comply with all eviction and relocation protections for residents. For purposes of this paragraph, “involuntary” is defined as a transfer, discharge, or eviction that is initiated by the assisted living facility, not by the resident.
  • To be informed by the assisted living facility of the provisions of law regarding complaints and of procedures for confidentially registering complaints, including, but not limited to, the address and telephone number for the complaint receiving unit of the California Department of Social Services, and how to contact the Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services, and the long-term care ombudsman regarding grievances, problems, of concerns in regard to the facility.
  • To contact the State Department of Social Services, the long-term care ombudsman, or both entities, in regard to grievances associated with the assisted living community. The assisted living community shall post the telephone numbers and addresses for the local offices of the California Department of Social Services and ombudsman program, according to Section 9718 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, conspicuously in locations that include the facility foyer, lobby, residents’ activity room, or other location easily accessible to residents and their representatives.
  • To have the freedom to attend religious services or activities of their choice either in or outside the facility and to have visits from the spiritual advisor of their choice. Attendance at religious services, either in or outside the facility, shall be on a completely voluntary basis.
  • To make choices concerning their daily lives in the facility.
  • To receive reasonable accommodation of a resident’s individual needs and preferences in all aspects of life in the facility, except when accommodation would endanger the health or safety of the individual resident or other residents.
  • To leave or depart the facility at any time and to not be locked into any room, building, or on facility premises by day or night. This does not prohibit a licensee from establishing house rules, such as locking doors at night to protect residents, or barring windows against intruders, with permission from the Department.
  • To visit the facility prior to residence along with their representatives.
  • To move from the facility.
  • To have their representatives regularly informed by the licensee of activities related to care or services, including ongoing evaluations, as appropriate to their needs.
  • To have communications to the licensee from their representatives answered promptly and appropriately.
  • To be informed of the assisted living facility’s policy concerning visits and other communications with residents, according to Health and Safety Code section 1569.313.
  • To have their visitors, including ombudspersons and advocacy representatives, permitted to visit privately during reasonable hours and without prior notice, provided that the rights of other residents are not infringed upon.
  • To consent to have their relatives and other individuals of their choosing visit during reasonable hours, privately, and without prior notice.
  • To have reasonable access to telephones, to both make and receive confidential calls. The licensee may require reimbursement for long distance calls.
  • To send and receive unopened correspondence in a prompt manner.
  • To wear their own clothes; to keep and use their own personal possessions, including their toilet articles; and to keep and be allowed to spend their own money.
  • To keep, have access to, and use their own personal possessions, including toilet articles, and to keep and be allowed to spend their own money, unless limited by statute or regulation
  • To protection of their property from theft or loss according to Health and Safety Code sections 1569.152, 1569.153, and 1569.154.
  • To receive or reject medical care, or other services.
  • To fully participate in planning their care, including the right to attend and participate in meetings or communications regarding care and services to be provided, according to Health and Safety Code section 1569.80, and involve persons of their choice in this planning. The licensee shall provide necessary information and support to ensure that residents direct the planning of their care to the maximum extent possible, and are enabled to make informed decisions and choices.
  • To receive in the admission agreement a comprehensive description of the method for evaluating residents’ service needs and the fee schedule for the items and services, and to receive written notice of any rate increases according to Health and Safety Code sections 1569.655 and 1569.884.
  • To be informed in writing prior to or at the time of admission, of any resident retention limitations set by the state or licensee, including any limitations or restrictions on the licensee’s ability to meet residents’ needs.
  • To be fully informed, prior to or at the time of admission, of all rules that govern resident conduct and responsibilities while living at the facility, as evidenced by the resident’s written acknowledgement. All rules established by a licensee shall be reasonable and not violate any rights in this section or other applicable laws or regulations, according to Health and Safety Code section 1569.885.
  • To select their own physicians, pharmacies, privately paid personal assistants, hospice agency, and health care providers in a manner that is consistent with the resident’s admission agreement or other rules of the facility, and according to these personal rights
  • To receive written information on the right to establish an advance health care directive and the licensee’s written policies on honoring an advance health care directive according to Health and Safety Code section 1569.156.
  • To care, supervision, and services that meet their individual needs and are delivered by staff that are sufficient in numbers, qualifications, and competency to meet their needs.
  • To be served food of the quality and quantity necessary to meet their nutritional needs.
  • To be encouraged to develop and maintain their fullest potential for independent living through participation in activities designed and implemented for this purpose, according to Section 87219.
  • To receive assistance in exercising the right to vote.
  • To be encouraged and assisted in exercising their rights as citizens and as residents of the facility. Residents shall be free from interference, coercion, discrimination, and retaliation in exercising their rights.
  • To organize and participate in a resident council established according to Health and Safety Code section 1569.157.
  • To present grievances and recommend changes in policies, procedures, and services to the facility staff, management, and governing authority, and to any other person without restraint, coercion, discrimination, reprisal, or other retaliatory actions. The licensee shall respond to residents’ grievances and recommendations promptly.
  • To have their records and personal information remain confidential and to approve their release, except as authorized by law.
  • To have prompt access to review all of their records and to purchase photocopies of their records. Photocopied records shall be provided within two (2) business days and at a cost that does not exceed the community standard for photocopies.
  • To manage their financial affairs. An assisted living facility shall not require residents to deposit their personal funds with the licensee.

Except as provided for in approved continuing care agreements, a licensee, or a spouse, domestic partner, relative, or employee of a licensee, shall not do any of the following:

  • Accept appointment as a guardian or conservator of the person or estate of a resident.
  • Become or act as a representative payee for any payments made to a resident, without the written and documented consent of the resident or the resident’s representative.
  • Serve as an agent for a resident under any general or special power of attorney.
  • Become or act as a joint tenant on any account with a resident.
  • Enter into a loan or promissory agreement or otherwise borrow money from a resident without a notarized written agreement outlining the terms of the repayment being given to the resident.