One of the main reasons that seniors usually prefer to “age in place” is because of serious concerns about the quality of care provided in many nursing homes. All New Yorkers have likely heard a few stories about neglect, mistreatment, and outright abuse occurring in long-term care facilities. Most perceive nursing homes as very restrictive locations where freedoms are curtailed and seniors are treated as children needing authority instead of community members in need of extra caregiving help.
Understand Your Rights
In order to raise awareness of the legal rights afforded to all seniors, one of the leading advocacy groups for residents, the Consumer Voice, designates October as “Residents’ Rights Month.” A part of the event, many different programs are involved in the outreach effort at nursing homes across the country, including in New York.
The announcement for the event explains that “It is a time for celebration and recognition offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident.”
The official theme for this year’s annual event is, “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse.” That is a message that we all can get behind. Unfortunately, elder care advocates often point out that mistreatment of the elderly–inside and outside the nursing home–is frequently swept under the rug. That is why many are pushing for these sorts of awareness programs that urge friends, family members, and others to speak out when they suspect poor caregiving. Change can only happen when mistreatment leads to consequences.
Those interested in learning more about Residents’ Right Month programs can take a look at the Consumer Voice website for the project. Beyond sharing information about programs that are already scheduled, materials are provided for advocates to create an event at your own local long-term care facilities. From arranging a speaker to leading a discussion group among residents, there are many ways to make an impact and spread information about the legal rights for nursing home residents.
It is important to emphasize that both state and federal laws clearly indicate the quality of care that must be provided at these facilities. For example, the Nursing Home Care Act from 1987 was passed by the federal government, though some facilities continue to shirk their legal obligations.
Elder law attorneys are acutely aware of the exploitation that New York seniors face. Far too many elderly community members spend their golden years in less than ideal locations. We urge all families to avoid this fate by planning ahead for long-term care needs.