All of my life, I have enjoyed the delicious flavors of all kinds of food — the sultry flavors of Indian cuisine, the spicy bite of an enchilada and the tartness of key lime pie, just to name a few. This enjoyment is part of what makes me who I am, and all of my closest friends and family know it. I also like to wake each morning at 5 a.m. sharp and am very independent. No matter where I live or how old I am, I will carry these preferences and habits with me.
A nursing home is a home; a new address. Our likes and dislikes do not change when our address changes. As nursing home residents, our preferences and individuality should be respected. In fact, all nursing home residents have rights, protected by both federal and New York state law, which ensure that dignity, respect and consideration be given to our unique schedules, preferences and wishes.
Do you have your own quirks and a list of “must-haves?” Here is a list of just a few of the protected resident rights, for nursing home residents:
The right to be treated with dignity, respect and consideration at all times. We are individuals, with histories, personal preferences and feelings, and we all deserve to be treated with dignity, no matter what our address is.
The right to choose activities, schedules and health care consistent with your interests and plan of care. Wake up at 5 a.m., decide to watch TV all day, and contact an acupuncturist for that painful arthritis — it’s all your choice!
The right to privacy in the treatment and care of your personal needs. Doors should be closed and privacy curtains should be pulled during your care.
The right to communicate with and have access to people and services inside and outside the facility. It is your right to visit with a long-lost relative, or to continue seeing a favorite family doctor.
The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal. Feel free to voice your concerns, without retaliation or resentment for doing so.
These are just a few of the protected rights of residents living in New York state’s nursing homes. Nursing home residents take their individuality, history and preferences with them; they do not simply leave them at the door when they arrive.
For more information about resident rights in longterm care facilities, contact your local ombudsman, or read more about resident rights on the New York State Department of Health website at www.health.state.ny.us.
Volunteer longterm care ombudsman serve at every nursing home and adult care facility in Clinton and Essex counties. They are trained professionals who assist with and investigate resident concerns, and advocate for the rights of residents in long term care facilities. If you believe that the rights of your loved one have been violated, or if you would like advice or assistance, call Alan Bechard. The ombudsman assigned to the facility can assist you with your concern.
Alan Bechard is the Ombudsman Program Coordinator for Clinton and Essex counties. He can be reached at 562-1732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.