Advocate for loved ones in long-term care facilities during Residents’ Rights Month

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Photo courtesy United Way Area Agency on the Aging

Taking care of grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, relatives or friends, who need long-term care, is a sacred responsibility.

That is why Residents’ Rights Month, an event designated to honor residents living in long-term care facilities, is recognized every year in October.

The purpose of the month-long campaign is to build awareness and support efforts that promote the dignity of every resident and loved one who lives at local long-term care facilities. These places include nursing homes, boarding homes, or assisted living facilities.

Over 100 Facilities in the area

In Jefferson County alone, there are 106 long-term care facilities serving up to 6000 people. To put that into perspective, that is about the population of Birmingham’s Highland Park Neighborhood.

Meet Morgan Rhodes–A Long-Term Care Ombudsman Covering Jefferson County

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Never heard the word “ombudsman”? It’s a Swedish term that means “working on behalf of someone else as an advocate.”

A principal advocate for Residents’ Rights in Jefferson County is Morgan Rhodes.

Rhodes serves as a Long-term Care Ombudsman at the United Way Area Agency on Aging.

In a nutshell, she works with individual residents as well as their families to resolve questions or problems that residents may be experiencing at their facilities.

“People need to know about our program, because you may know somebody in one of these long-term care facilities—loved ones, friends and families. You may potentially reside in one of these facilities in the future, so knowing that there are residents’ rights is something you may need to know.” — Morgan Rhodes, Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Residents’ Rights

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Photo courtesy United Way Area Agency on the Aging

So, what are the rights of residents living in long-term care facilities? Here is the list provided by Rhodes and the United Way Area Agency on Aging.

Residents have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Be free from chemical and physical restraints.
  • Voice grievances without fear of retaliation.
  • Associate and communicate privately with any person of their choice.
  • Send and receive personal mail.
  • Have personal and medical records kept confidential.
  • Apply for state and federal assistance without discrimination.
  • Be fully informed prior to admission of their rights, services available and all charges, and to be given advance notice of transfer or discharge.

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Additional rights include:

  • Receiving a timely response to your care needs.
  • Speaking with the doctor of your choice.
  • Participating in care planning.
  • Having your needs met (i.e. food, water, assistance with care).
  • Participating in activities you enjoy.
  • Participating in community and/or civic activities, including voting.
  • Participating in religious activities.
  • Choosing when to wake up and what to wear.
  • Being called by the name of your choice.
  • Having your cultural choices in food and activities respected.
  • Accepting or refusing treatment.
  • Choosing an alternative menu item.
  • Staying up as late as you want, or going to bed early if you wish.

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Need an advocate?

Who can use the services of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Jefferson County and throughout Central Alabama?

Answer: Anyone can use the service and it is FREE.

All you need to do is pick up the phone and contact your local or state Ombudsman through the 1.800.AGE.LINE or 1.800.243.5463.

Be Prepared—Know Your Love One’s Rights

Be sure to advocate for your loved one’s rights during Residents’ Rights Month! Tell us their story by tagging @bhamnow!

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Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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