Across the country, residents of nursing homes and other long term care facilities along with family member, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff and others will honor the individual rights of long- term care residents by celebrating Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long- term Care (The Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect and the value of long-term residents.
The theme for Residents’ Rights Month 2013 is, “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse” with the goal of encouraging residents and others to be educated about and speak out again elder abuse.
“Residents’ Rights Month is an excellent opportunity to re-affirm our collective commitment to residents‘ rights and to honor long-term care residents,” said Sarah F. Wells, Consumer Voice Executive Director. “We want to help create a safe and secure environment for older adults and individuals with disabilities, no matter where they may happen to live. Whether it’s the residents themselves or witnesses of elder abuse, there is no reason some should keep quiet and avoid taking action. We hope to facilitate and encourage ways for residents, their loved ones, or witnesses of elder abuse to use their voice and speak out against this serious issue.”
The Nursing Home Reform Law, passed in 1987, guarantees nursing home residents their individual rights, including but not limited to: individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain and the right to make independent choices. Residents who have made their home in other types of facilities such as assisted living, supportive living or skilled nursing facilities maintain their rights as U.S. Citizens. Residents’ Rights Month raises awareness about these rights and pays tribute to the unique contributions of long-term residents.
The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has worked for more than 30 years to promote residents’ rights daily. More than 8,000 volunteers and 1,000 paid staff are advocates for residents in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Authorized under the Older Americans Act and administered by the Administration on Aging, the program also provides information on how to find a facility, conducts community education sessions and supports residents, their families and the public with one-on-one consultations regarding long term care.
Alternatives for the Older Adult, a nonprofit which promotes the independence and quality of life of older adults and their families, recognizes the importance of residents’ rights by providing the Ombudsman Program for ten counties in the state of Illinois including Rock Island, Mercer, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, McDonough, Putnam, Bureau, Warren and Henderson County.
Regional Ombudsman for Alternatives for the Older Adult Nancy Schold explains why the community should recognize the importance of Residents’ Rights Month.
“Residents retain all of the rights they enjoyed while living in the community. As with every other citizen of Illinois, the rights of nursing home residents are guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Illinois. Residents retain the rights of free speech, practice of religion, freedom from unlawful search or seizure, and the right to vote. In addition, Residents gain the additional rights of safety and good care.” Schold said.
For more information about Residents’ Rights Month or the Ombudsman Program contact Alternatives for the Older Adult.