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Family Councils (FC) are a group of friends and relatives of residents in nursing homes or assisted living who work together to advocate for their loved ones. These groups, whether large or small, serve as a private space for families to voice concerns and work together to find solutions to improve quality of life and resident care.

Privacy and independence are vital to a family council’s success in advocating for residents. Federal law (CFR 483.10(f)(5)) grants nursing home family councils the right to organize and participate in resident groups independently of the facility staff. At the same time, the facility must provide a private meeting space and assist the council in setting up meetings upon request. This page offers guidance for ensuring that a family council’s privacy and independence are respected and protected.

To make sure your Family Council maintains independence and privacy…


  • Set clear privacy and communication rules with your family council.
  • Use secure communication for virtual meetings, such as password-protected Zoom rooms.
  • Assign a liaison to keep in touch with facility staff.
  • If needed, you can ask facility for help setting up meetings. Be sure to maintain autonomy!
  • Use your ombudsmen! They can help educate council members about rights, mediate between the council and the facility, and ensure your council’s privacy and independence are respected.


  • Share meeting links or confidential matters publicly or in open email chains.
  • Allow facility staff to attend meetings and/or direct discussions without permission.
  • Share meeting minutes or names of attendees with staff (even if they ask nicely).
  • Discuss private matters in public.
  • Record meetings without consent of family council and/or share recordings with staff.


Zooming Ahead: After helping a family council set up a Zoom meeting, a nursing home staff said they wanted to watch to “make sure there’s no tech issues.” The council then met privately and decided they did not want the staff there. The next day, the council liaison told the staff that under CFR 483.10(f)(5), the council had the right to meet independently, but thanked the staff for helping with the Zoom room.

Email Chain Privacy: A family council member mistakenly included a nursing home administrator on an email discussing sensitive council matters. The council quickly convened, reminded members to double-check recipients before sending emails, and informed the administrator that, as per CFR 483.10(f)(5), their communications are private and independent.

Surprise Visitor: During a family council meeting, a facility staff member unexpectedly entered the room to offer assistance. The council politely declined, citing their right to private meetings under CFR 483.10(f)(5), and requested the facility to respect their meeting times and privacy in the future.

For the Record: A nursing home staff suggested recording a family council’s virtual meeting for “record-keeping purposes.” The council discussed this and decided against it, informing the staff that, according to CFR 483.10(f)(5), they preferred to maintain privacy and would keep their own meeting minutes instead.

Visit to set up a private and secure Zoom room for your family council. Learn more about family councils at or contact us at