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It drives me nuts when I read or hear someone(s) referred to as “nursing home patient(s)”. Yes, nursing home staff (and visiting health care professionals) can and do provide medical care to folks who live there. In that sense, a person living in a nursing home could be referred to as a “patient.” At the same time persons living such a facility are receiving care in their home. Therefore, in my way of thinking, it is appropriate to refer to these folks as “nursing home residents.

Why is this wording an important issue to me? What difference does it make if someone living in a nursing home is referred to as a “patient” instead of as a “resident”? It makes all the difference in the world because this is a reflection of one of the core problems within the nursing home industry. Many within the industry would like to believe that they do not have to respect the rights of nursing home residents. They seem to conveniently forget that a nursing home IS A HOME to the people who live there. And just as you and I have rights in our home (house, apartment, condo, dormitory room, etc.) so do nursing home residents have legal rights in their home (which happens to be in a long-term health care facility).

Rights. Like the right to have their family and friends visit them without nursing home interference. And the right to wear their regular clothing to bed instead of a gown that many residents find violates their sense of decency because of revealing more of their body than they feel comfortable with showing. As well as the right to have personal conversations with family and friends not eavesdropped on by nursing home staff. ALL of these rights and more were violated by nursing homes who cared for my mother. Comments left on this blog and various news reports confirm that my late mother is one of the vast majority of nursing home residents who have/had their rights violated by nursing home staff on a regular basis. Yes, violating the rights of nursing home residents is a very real problem and the language used reflects what desperately needs to be fixed.

Resident. Respect the resident’s rights because the nursing home is their home! Yes it matters as we work to change the “nursing home culture” so it honors the residents entrusted to the care of long-term health care facilities (a/k/a nursing homes).

Nursing Home News Watch

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