Celebrate Residents' Rights Month - "My Voice, My Vote, My Right"

posted Oct 23, 2012, 6:54 AM by Latia Murray

When a person moves into a nursing home it doesn’t mean their rights have to be forfeited. October is Resident’s Rights Month, a time to honor those living in long-term care and nursing home facilities and time to celebrate their rights.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “My Voice, My Vote, My Right,” which is meant to focus on encouraging residents to exercise their right to vote and to participate in the political process.

“This month offers an excellent opportunity to reaffirm our commitment in the community to resident’s rights and to celebrate them by encouraging individuals, groups and organizations to participate in nursing home activities…to visit residents and get to know them. They are the living history of our communities,” said Samantha Walker, Ombudsman Supervisor at South Western Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA).

Residents’ right to vote and participate in the political process is extremely important, but their rights extend far beyond that. The Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 guarantees nursing home residents their individual rights as United States Citizens.

Rights outlined in this law include: individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain and the right to make independent choices.

“Of course these seem like common sense,” said Walker, “but, they include the little every day things we often overlook, such as receiving mail unopened, talking on the phone privately, visitors and staff knocking on the door before entering and being able to have alternate food choices.”

To find out what you can do to honor your community’s living history, contact your local nursing home, long-term care facility or assisted living facility. To become an Ombudsman volunteer, and help throughout the year, contact Samantha Walker at 580-562-4882. The Ombudsman program serves Beckham, Greer, Harmon, Custer, Washita, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Jackson counties.

More about residents’ rights can also be found at www.theconsumervoice.org.