Long-term Care Residents Honored During Residents’ Rights Month


Across the country, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities along with family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff, and others will honor the individual rights of long-term care residents by celebrating Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (The Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on the awareness of dignity, respect and the value of long-term care residents.

The theme for Residents’ Rights Month 2016 is “My Vote Matters” with the goals of educating the community about residents’ rights to vote and participate in the political process. “We want people to recognize that being a resident in a nursing home doesn’t have to mean that you can’t participate in the political process,” said Lori Smetanka, Executive Director of the Consumer Voice. “We hope to facilitate ways for residents to use their voice and their vote and take part in the election this fall.”

Though voting rights are center stage during 2016 Residents’ Rights Month, they’re not the sole focus. “Many people never stop to think about what rights a person may have while living in a long-term care facility,” said Kim Kimbrough, attorney and founder of Kimbrough Law in Athens and Gainesville. “In many cases, the issue doesn’t come up until the family realizes that there’s some sort of problem with the quality of care the loved one is receiving.” The Nursing Home Reform Law, passed in 1987, guarantees nursing home residents their individual rights, including but not limited to individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain, and the right to make independent choices. Residents who have made their home in other types of facilities, including assisted living facilities, memory care centers and adult care homes maintain their rights as U.S. Citizens.

Residents’ rights will be one of the topics addressed at two upcoming free workshops sponsored by Kimbrough Law Firm during October. The first workshop is set for 10 am on Thursday, October 13; the second will be held at 4 pm on Tuesday, October 18. Both workshops will take place in the Longstreet 2 Room at Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green Street, Gainesville, GA. To reserve a seat, call 800.817.0604.

Residents’ Rights Month raises awareness about these rights and pays tribute to the unique contributions of long-term care facility residents. “Residents’ Rights Month is also a great time to remind families about the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program,” added Kimbrough. “This program has worked for more than 30 years to promote residents’ rights daily.”

In the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, more than 8,000 volunteers and 1,000 paid staff are advocates for residents in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Authorized under the Older Americans Act and administered by the Administration on Aging, the program also provides information on how to find a facility, conducts community education sessions, and supports residents, their families and the public with one-on-one consultation regarding long-term care. In Clarke County, the Athens Community Council on Aging coordinates the Community Ombudsman Program. To request assistance, call 706.549.4850 or visit http://www.georgiaombudsman.org/where-we-are-located/northeast-georgia-locations/. In Hall County/Gainesville, The Legacy Link in Oakwood administers the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. For assistance, call 770.538.2650 or visit http://www.georgiaombudsman.org/where-we-are-located/georgia-mountains-locations/.

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