Celebrate resident rights in October

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By Kay Kaylor

PREVIEW Columnist

I advocate for residents in skilled nursing and assisted living residences as the Region 9 long-term care ombudsman employed at the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). Some of the many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care annually designates October to honor residents in long-term care facilities, along with people receiving care in their homes and long-term services and supports in their community. It is a chance to celebrate the dignity, respect and rights of every one of these individuals.

 “Reclaiming My Rights, My Home, My Life,” this year’s Residents’ Rights Month theme, “acknowledges the impact of this past year on residents and highlights the need for residents’ rights to be recognized, recovered and reasserted. It emphasizes the recognition of the long-term care facility as the residents’ home and the importance of residents reclaiming their own lives,” Consumer Voice advocates state. 

The intent is to raise awareness of the federally mandated rights of residents, including quality of care, safety, treatment with respect and the need for self-determination.

When advocating for residents, ombudsmen focus on empowering them and educating all those involved in their care on specific rights under the authority of the 1965 Older Americans Act and its amendments passed by Congress for decades. Additional important rights are individualized care, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain without retaliation and the right to make independent choices. 

One of the tools for self-determination and person-centered care is a sheet created by the Consumer Voice and available on theconsumervoice.org titled, “My Personal Directions for Quality Living.” 

Residents, their friends, or family members can fill out details for caregivers about the residents’ life story, chosen room belongings, how residents want to start their day, clothing they like to wear for different occasions, how they prefer to relax and prepare for sleeping, and activities and foods they enjoy. The sheet also has room for things residents do not like; what makes them laugh, anxious or calm; religious, spiritual or cultural traditions; and end-of-life preferences.

The Consumer Voice offers on its website a free downloadable enrichment booklet or you can buy hard copies at its online store titled “Staying Engaged.” Its activities include puzzles, word searches, prompts for writing and trivia questions.

SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or with Medicare; see sjbaaa.org. For further information and assistance, call (970) 264-0501 and listen to the recording to select an extension.