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Long-term care rights are honored nationwide this month

Long-term care residents are often treated like forgotten people due to their physical limitations and incapacities. However, this is a time to reflect on their contributions to society and their absolute right to enjoy a good quality of life in their residential facilities. In Texas and other states, October is National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Month. This makes it an appropriate time to mention and reaffirm the rights of residents to receive person-centered care.  

That means a level of care tailored to each person's unique needs. Every long-term care resident has, over a lifetime of activities, contributed in various small and large ways to the betterment of their communities and society in general. Federal and state laws guarantee them their basic rights as citizens and afford them additional rights as health care residents. They enjoy the enforceable right to respect, dignity and to receive professional and competent care. They have the right to complain, to privacy and to be free from abuse and neglect.

The right to quality care is the theme of this year's program. That care must rise above minimal maintenance and should instead be formulated to nourish the needs of each separate resident. Person-centered care is the standard that will guide long-term care institutions in the coming decades. It attempts to give each individual an environment that facilitates full enjoyment of his or her life.

It is hoped that that new standard of care will usher in an era where people will appreciate long-term care as a valuable phase of life, where learning and living creatively is not stifled or stopped. Texas and other states may want to consider establishing an ombudsman program or something similar. In a neighboring state, there are 100 volunteers who communicate with long-term care residents and provide them with a voice to express their concerns and needs. Those who raised and taught the generations below them deserve to now be treated with a full spectrum of rights and respect in their last years.

Source: abqjournal.com, "Elderly residents deserve dignity", Sondra Everhart, Oct. 9, 2015

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