Annually throughout October, long-term care facilities, nurses, and caregivers honor Residents’ Rights Month. Created by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice), the event is a time to celebrate the dignity of long-term care facility residents and raise awareness of the rights they are entitled.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues impacting nursing homes and residents across the nation — and as nursing home abuse and neglect, unfortunately, persist — a time of intentional connection is crucial for the mental and physical well-being of all residents. This year’s theme — Inspiring Unity within Our Community — for the month-long celebration allows participants to focus on how a flourishing community contributes to well-being.
What Are Residents’ Rights in a Nursing Home?
Consumer Voice lists several rights that each resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility deserves. Learn more about some of the residents’ rights in nursing homes and long-term care facilities below.
Right to a Dignified Existence
Each resident is entitled to a dignified existence. This means they deserve respect free from discrimination. Regardless of gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, all residents are entitled to equal care in a safe environment. This also includes the right to privacy when communicating personal, financial, or medical affairs or receiving treatment.
Right to Self-Determination
Self-determination refers to residents’ ability to choose based on their preferences and needs. Facilities must accommodate residents’ needs and provide clear options for activities, schedules, care, and their attending nurses.
Right to be Fully Informed
Every nursing home resident is entitled to information about their care. This includes details on the risks and benefits of such care. Changes to proposed care or even room assignments must also be communicated to residents in advance. All information must be provided in a language that residents understand.
Right to Raise Grievances
Residents have the right to raise concerns about the facility or care they receive. The long-term care facility must hear these concerns without discriminating or retaliating against them. Residents may also raise concerns to the long-term care ombudsman program.
Right to Access
Similarly, nursing home facilities must ensure residents have access to their medical records, accommodations for hearing or visual impairments, and various community activities, such as social and religious gatherings.
Ways to Celebrate and Care for Residents
Ensuring residents receive each of the rights they are entitled to is a community effort. That is why celebrating Residents’ Rights Month in various ways is so important for raising awareness.
Whether you have a loved one in a long-term care facility or want to find ways to get involved in your community, here are a few ideas for participating in the month-long celebration and ensuring that residents receive the care they deserve.
- Contact your local governments and encourage them to issue proclamations of October as Residents’ Rights Month. Georgia, Idaho, and Illinois and their respective ombudsman programs have written about the importance of Residents’ Rights Month.
- Coordinate with local schools to develop educational programs. This may encourage young people to get into the habit of visiting local nursing homes to decrease residents’ feelings of loneliness.
- Create a residents’ rights bulletin board to help educate residents on what they are entitled to.
- Organize an arts and crafts activity for residents. Creativity can lead to feelings of satisfaction and hope, ultimately boosting well-being within the residents’ community.
- Plan regular visits to local care facilities and get to know the residents. Elderly residents who engage in conversation may improve cognitive function and emotional well-being.
- Write letters to residents. Including pictures and colorful drawings from children may boost feelings of happiness for residents that receive the letters.
In addition to these simple ideas to celebrate residents at care facilities, Consumer Voice compiled an activity guide. The guide includes crossword and sudoku puzzles, word searches, and other community-driven activities to help engage residents.
How to Report Nursing Home Abuse
An unfortunate truth about nursing homes and long-term care facilities is that abuse is not uncommon. Residents are not always afforded the rights and care they are entitled to. In fact, roughly 85% of assisted living facilities in the United States have reported at least one case of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Another way to protect residents is to understand the warning signs of nursing home abuse. Common signs include bruises and scrapes, broken possessions, fear of being alone, and social withdrawal.
It is often nerve-racking for victims of nursing home abuse to come forward. That is why empathetic and unified communities are so important for residents’ rights and well-being. If you believe residents’ rights are being violated and abuse is occurring, there are a few avenues to report nursing home abuse and neglect, including calling 911 and reaching out to an ombudsman program.
If a loved one has experienced abuse or neglect in a nursing home, nursing home abuse lawyers can help you seek justice and hold abusers accountable. Contact our advocate team so they can connect you with the best law firm to handle your case.
This Residents’ Rights Month, let us join together to protect our elderly neighbors and help ensure they receive the exceptional care they deserve.