The Person Inside: The Same in a Nursing Home as at Home

Guest Viewpoint

All of my life, I have enjoyed the delicious flavors of all kinds of food — the sultry flavors of Indian cuisine, the spicy bite of an enchilada and the tartness of key lime pie, just to name a few. This enjoyment is part of what makes me who I am, and all of my closest friends and family know it. I also like to wake each morning at 5 a.m. sharp and am very independent. No matter where I live or how old I am, I will carry these preferences and habits with me.

A nursing home is a home; a new address. Our likes and dislikes do not change when our address changes. As nursing home residents, our preferences and individuality should be respected. In fact, all nursing home residents have rights, protected by both federal and New York state law, which ensure that dignity, respect and consideration be given to our unique schedules, preferences and wishes.

Do you have your own quirks and a list of “must-haves?” Here is a list of just a few of the protected resident rights, for nursing home residents:

The right to be treated with dignity, respect and consideration at all times. We are individuals, with histories, personal preferences and feelings, and we all deserve to be treated with dignity, no matter what our address is.

The right to choose activities, schedules and health care consistent with your interests and plan of care. Wake up at 5 a.m., decide to watch TV all day, and contact an acupuncturist for that painful arthritis — it’s all your choice!

The right to privacy in the treatment and care of your personal needs. Doors should be closed and privacy curtains should be pulled during your care.

The right to communicate with and have access to people and services inside and outside the facility. It is your right to visit with a long-lost relative, or to continue seeing a favorite family doctor.

Alan Bechard is the Ombudsman Program Coordinator for Clinton and Essex counties. He can be reached at 562-1732 or alanbechard@aol.com.

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