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September 24, 2015

TO: Long-Term Care Administrators, Residents and Staff

CONTACT: Kathleen Heren, 401-785-3340,

Rhode Island State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program


Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month, October 2015


Washington DC- 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 (Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect and the value of         long-term care residents.  


The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2015 is, "CARE Matters” with the goal of highlighting quality care.  “The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees the rights of all residents. These rights include the right to participate in one’s own care, the right to make independent choices, and rights to dignity, respect and freedom, among other important rights that emphasize quality care,” said Richard Gelula, Executive Director of Consumer Voice.


In Rhode Island we are encouraging facilities to celebrate Residents' Rights Month in their own way, highlighting the importance of residents remaining actively involved in their daily care and choices.  Reasons facilities should participate include; educating staff on residents' rights, build relationships with residents, families and staff, promote community involvement in long-term care, increase community awareness of long-term care and residents’ rights, highlight your facility’s dedication to promoting residents' rights and person centered care.



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’ Rights Month raises awareness about these rights and pays tribute to the unique contributions of long-term residents.  


The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has worked for more than 30 years to promote residents’ rights daily. 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.    


Suggestions of ways your facility can recognize Residents’ Rights Month:


-        Spread awareness by hosting a facility-wide “Town Hall Meeting” to engage in an open discussion and/or a question and answer session about residents’ rights.  Provide a printout of residents’ rights to all who attend.  Invite residents, families and staff to attend.

-        Hold activities that integrate residents’ rights and encourage conversation relating to them (i.e. word games, residents’ rights bingo, etc.).

-        Hold your annually required Residents’ Rights in-services for staff

-        Post residents’ rights on large posters throughout your building

-        Ask residents to contribute to a newsletter giving short descriptions of why residents’ rights are important to them.


When the focus of a nursing home is on the resident, the nursing home is a better place to live and to work. It becomes the facility of choice as well as the employer of choice.


Office of the Rhode Island Long Term Care State Ombudsman has staff ombudsmen who are available to speak to your residents, families and staff about Residents’ Rights and to provide educational materials.  Ombudsman Program brochures & posters are also available, including laminated Residents’ Rights Cards for your residents.  If you are interested in any of the above, please call our office Monday-Friday 9-5 at 401-785-3340.



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