For most of us, we have no problem letting someone know when our rights are being violated. But, have you thought about the rights of residents who happen to live in a long-term care facility? Do a person’s rights change when they are no longer completely independent?

October is “Residents’ Rights Month.” It is an annual event to honor those living in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living communities. It is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect, and the rights of each resident. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees residents’ rights and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice, and self-determination. The law also requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.” State law also protects the rights of all long-term care residents. Residents’ Rights Month is a time to raise awareness of these rights and celebrate residents.

This year’s theme, “Connection Matters”, emphasizes connections – to family, to friends, and to the community – as an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents. During this time of pandemic, in-person visits are extremely restricted. It is more important than ever to help residents stay connected with family and friends using technology, window visits and other options. Residents’ Rights Month is an opportunity for residents, staff, families, ombudsman representatives, and other advocates to work together and promote quality long- term care.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program gives a voice to resident concerns, advocates for system and legislative changes, addresses complaints, and provides information and assistance to long-term care residents. We strongly encourage the community to participate in Residents’ Rights Month activities because our residents continue to be important members of our
communities. To learn more about Residents’ Rights Month overall, please visit https://www.georgiaombudsman.org/ or call 1-866-552-4464, option 5 to connect with our ombudsman representatives.