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Resident’s Right to Share a Room; Roommates

Nursing home residents have a right to share a room with whomever they wish as long as both residents agree. Specifically, 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(e)(4) – (6) provides that the resident has a right to be treated with respect and dignity, including:

(4) The right to share a room with his or her spouse when married residents live in the same facility and both spouses consent to the arrangement.

(5) The right to share a room with his or her roommate of choice when practicable, when both residents live in the same facility and both residents consent to the arrangement.

(6) The right to receive written notice, including the reason for the change, before the resident’s room or roommate in the facility is changed.

Appendix PP states:

Residents have the right to share a room with whomever they wish, as long as both residents are in agreement. These arrangements could include opposite-sex and same-sex married couples or domestic partners, siblings, or friends.

There are some limitations to these rights. Residents do not have the right to demand that a current roommate is displaced in order to accommodate the couple that wishes to room together. In addition, residents are not able to share a room if one of the residents has a different payment source for which the facility is not certified (if the room is in a distinct part of the facility, unless one of the residents elects to pay privately for his or her care) or one of the individuals is not eligible to reside in a nursing home.

Moving to a new room or changing roommates is challenging for residents. A resident’s preferences should be taken into account when considering such changes. When a resident is being moved at the request of facility staff, the resident, family, and/or resident representative must receive an explanation in writing of why the move is required. The resident should be provided the opportunity to see the new location, meet the new roommate, and ask questions about the move.

A resident receiving a new roommate should be given as much advance notice as possible. The resident should be supported when a roommate passes away by providing time to adjust before moving another person into the room. The length of time needed to adjust may differ depending upon the resident. Facility staff should provide necessary social services for a resident who is grieving over the death of a roommate.

If the survey team identifies potential compliance issues related to social services, refer to §483.40(d), F745, Social Services.

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