Blog Post

October is National Residents’ Rights Month

October is National Residents’ Rights Month. It focuses on the rights and quality of life of residents in long-term care facilities – nursing facilities, assisted living, personal care homes, domiciliary care homes, and those who attend older adult daily living centers. This year’s theme is “Speak Up: Know Your Rights and How to Use Them.”  The theme emphasizes the importance of residents being informed about their rights; being engaged partners in achieving quality care and quality of life; and feeling confident in speaking up about what is important to them. In Philadelphia, advocating for residents’ rights goes on year-round through the Ombudsman program managed by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).

PCA’s  professional and volunteer ombudsmen program serves approximately 14,212 residents from 342 facilities in Philadelphia. Ombudsmen respond to concerns/ complaints made by residents and family members; make quality assurance visits to long-term care facilities and consult with individuals, family members and care providers. Ombudsman work with resident and family council groups and provide education about resident’s rights to facility staff.

During the last fiscal year, ombudsman in the program made 972 visits to long-term care facilities, provided information and consultation to 697 individuals and providers and received 346 complaints.

Issues addressed

Ombudsmen may address issues related to:

  • Residents’ finances: Access to personal funds, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, charges, and billing
  • Quality of life: Concerns about food, the physical environment, and social activities
  • Professional care: Issues concerning medications, nursing care, physician and rehabilitative services and the use of restraints
  • Residents’ rights: Practices and policies that maintain the resident’s dignity; as well as policies regarding admission, transfer and discharge
  • Information and education: Referrals to long-term care programs; assistance in making informed decisions about long term care providers and education about residents’ rights in various long term care settings

Click here for a fact sheet about federally mandated nursing home residents’ rights.

Two community partner organizations are subcontracted by PCA to provide ombudsman services in Philadelphia, based on geographic areas of the city. For information on ombudsman assistance:

South, West or North Philadelphia

Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE): 215-545-5724;  1-800-356-3606 (toll-free) or online at www.carie.org

1500 JFK Blvd., Suite 1500, Phila. 19102

Northeast or Northwest Philadelphia

Center in the Park: 215-844-1829; www.centerinthepark.org

5818 Germantown Ave., Phila. 19144

Become a volunteer ombudsman

Sixty percent of consumers residing in long term care facilities never receive a visitor.

Often, residents in long-term care facilities are unable to advocate for themselves. Volunteer ombudsmen visit long-term care facilities with the goal of helping to impact the quality of life for residents.  If you enjoy visiting with older adults, learning new skills, and encouraging families and residents to find solutions, consider becoming a volunteer ombudsman.

To find out more, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.