Resident Rights

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A common misconception is that people must give up some of their rights and freedoms when they decide to make the move to a retirement community. That fallacy could not be farther from the truth. Generally speaking, residents living in a retirement community have all the same rights and freedoms they had prior to their move in. This goes for all levels of support, regardless of whether the individual makes their home in residential living or memory support.

The Medicare.gov website explains, “Residents have certain rights and protections under the law.” CMS regulations require that the higher acuity support levels of a retirement community furnish all new residents with a copy of these rights.

These resident rights include, but are not limited to:

  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The right to be informed in writing about services and fees before you enter the nursing home.
  • The right to manage your own money or to choose someone else you trust to do this for you.
  • The right to privacy, and to keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others.
  • The right to be informed about your medical condition, medications, and to see your own doctor. You also have the right to refuse medications and treatments.
  • The right to have a choice over your schedule (for example, when you get up and go to sleep), your activities and other preferences that are important to you.
  • The right to an environment more like a home that maximizes your comfort and provides you with assistance to be as independent as possible.

Now you may be wondering how I could make this case when you visit a friend experiencing cognitive loss and they are living in a secure memory support neighborhood. That’s where “generally speaking” comes in. Your friend is likely living in a secure neighborhood because without boundaries, this individual would be unsafe.

Qualified staff, particularly in higher acuity support levels, has no choice but to withhold a right that would generally be afforded to a resident when that right becomes a safety issue. When we encounter a situation where the actions of a resident presents a potential health or safety concern for that resident, or other residents, we sometimes have no choice but to intervene. Withholding a right is always a last option after all other options have been exhausted.

Those looking to relocate to a retirement community such as Lutheran Sunset Ministries can rest assured knowing they will move in and receive appropriate support, be treated with courtesy and respect, and enjoy continued civil and legal rights.

This article was written by Lance Allen, Sunset Home administrator, a program of Lutheran Sunset Ministries.

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