October is nationally recognized as Residents’ Rights Month, an initiative of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. This year’s theme is “Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and the Community.”
When an individual moves into a long-term care facility like a nursing home, assisted living facility or adult family-care home, he or she gains a special set of rights in addition to those they maintain as a United States citizen. These rights range from the right to choose a physician and pharmacy to unrestricted private communication and reasonable opportunity to exercise and go outdoors at regular intervals.
Several of the 17 Florida Ombudsman Program districts hosted or participated in special events for Residents’ Rights Month, meeting with long-term care residents, families, facility staff, agency partners and community officials. The 17 plus volunteers in the Withlacoochee district hosted a Resident Council Summit. 28 residents from 10 different long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, attended along with several facility staff members.
“We had an interactive discussion with residents and caregivers,” said Withlacoochee District Manager, Helen Anderson. “We stressed the importance of residents maintaining the right of being a part of the outside community, where they live.”
Residents spoke about recognizing the reciprocal relationship they share with caregivers. Research shows supportive relationships are critical to well-being. Residents also shared what their favorite right was. Many residents expressed that their favorite right as a resident, was maintaining the ability to make their own decisions and choices, like picking what time to get up in the morning or choosing to enter or leave the facility when they wanted. Other residents expressed having the freedom to practice their individual religious preference, as their favorite right.
Check out the pictures from the Resident Council Summit, below!
On the other side of the state, Treasure Coast District Manager, Kevin McKeown, and local volunteer ombudsmen met with city officials to read Governor Rick Scott’s proclamation of October as Residents’ Rights Month for Florida. There were two readings of the proclamation, one in Indian River County and the other in Martin County. Members of the public and county commissioners were in attendance.
“I was honored to be given this opportunity to speak about Residents’ Rights Month and share information about our program and the diligent work our volunteers do to protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of long-term care facility residents,” said McKeown.
Events hosted by several other districts across Florida included the Panhandle District Chair, Linda Putnam, speaking to residents at the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center on resident rights, a Resident Council Chair meeting in Volusia and Flagler counties and a District-wide Resident Council meeting in Gainesville and Tarpon Springs.
“Residents’ Rights Month is a way we can respect and commemorate a population that has given us so much,” said State Ombudsman, Jim Crochet. “It also gives us an opportunity to educate the community on the Ombudsman Program’s mission, making sure these rights of long-term care facility residents are protected."
Honoring rights of long-term care residents should not be limited to just one month of the year. As the holidays approach, think about visiting someone in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Often times, a volunteer ombudsman is the only visitor a resident in a long-term care facility will see.