Picture: Rob Smith, Mayor of Olathe, and his supporting Town Council proclaimed October 2015 as Long-Term Care Resident Rights Month.
By Sandy Walker
Lead Ombudsman, Region 10 Area Agency on Aging
Residents Rights Month is an annual event designated by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and is celebrated in October to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, sub-acute units, assisted living, board and care and retirement communities. It is a time for celebration and recognition offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident. The theme for Resident Rights Month 2015 is, “CARE Matters” with the goal of highlighting quality care.
Celebrating Resident Rights Month is one way to honor residents receiving long-term care. It is an opportunity to show tribute to residents and support long-term care ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff and family members who work to promote and support residents’ rights. Setting aside a month to focus on rights is an effective way to ensure this important topic is recognized in our community. It is a time to reflect on the importance of the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 that promises quality of life, quality of care and rights for each resident. During this month we also give special recognition to the work of thousands of individuals who collaborate daily to help assure dignity, privacy and other basic human rights – often taken for granted in the community – are maintained as an integral part of the lives of residents living in long-term care settings.
As the Long Term Care Ombudsman for Region 10, Area Agency on Aging I have been speaking with many of the residents of our facilities about this important topic CARE MATTERS. This is a sampling of the many and varied responses I have gotten from the individuals polled:
Miriam – “Quality care means getting all my medications on time that I am always safe, that they will contact my doctor and my family any time I need help.”
Shirley – “I am allowed to sleep in, till noon, if I want.”
Cindy – “It means having a safe place to live with the help I need.”
Hank – “I can complain if I need to without fear.”
Bill – “I have people who I trust giving me good care.”
Paul – “I can cuddle with my cat.”
Betty – “I don’t have to cook and I get choices in the food I eat.”
Sue – “I get to have my dog with me”
Mary – “It is a safe place to live”
And finally the answer of the first person I polled and certainly the most poignant was Doris who said, “Good care means everything, I have no more relatives. They are my family.”
Resident Rights Month challenges us to talk with each other about what CARE means, and in doing so we learn that there are common denominators to CARE – a kind spirit, adequate numbers of well trained staff who can respond to needs, a safe living environment and interactions that are filled with respect. We learn that what CARE means is very individualized but Matters so much so that the most vulnerable in our society are treated as unique individuals with dignity, courtesy and honor.
CARE MATTERS in all long-term care settings.
CARE MATTERS to every resident, caregiver, family member and staff person who is committed to quality of care and quality of life.
CARE MATTERS to advocates, researchers and others who seek a long-term care system that is focused on individualized care, respect and relationships.
Thank you to each one of you who make CARE MATTER.