How can I find out who is on the emergency contact list if the power of attorney isn't giving any information?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 15, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My uncle is in an assisted living environment. His health care proxy/power of attorney has refused myself and my sister any kind of information regarding our uncle. We are our uncle's only living relatives. The Power of Attorney person is just a friend. My question is: How do I find out if I have been put on my uncle's contact list in case of emergency/death? By law does the assisted living facility/nursing home have to contact the next of kin in such cases? How do I go about getting my name/address and phone number on it? Thank you, Concerned Niece

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Federal law requires that a nursing facility must notify the resident's legal representative or interested family member when there is "a significant change in the resident's physical, mental, or psycho-social status." Death has been held to be one of those significant changes. And although the law seems to require the nursing home only to notify the legal representative or interested family members, most will agree to notify both types of people as a matter of courtesy and kindness.

But first you and your sister will need to get on the facility's radar screen, if you're not already there.

Contact the administrator of the nursing facility and explain your situation. It should be relatively easy to track down his or her contact information, especially if the facility has a website; most do these days. Make it easy to contact you"”providing alternative phones and an email address, and perhaps designating one of you to be notified, then tell the other.

If the administrator seems uncooperative, contact the facility's ombudsman. An ombudsman is a person outside the facility, not associated with the ownership, who is trained to investigate problems and endeavors to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents in residential care facilities. You can find the local one at