The Rights of People Residing in Nursing Homes and Rehabilitation Facilities


Having suffered pain and indignities that should not be inflicted on people who are sick and/or elderly and therefore residing in facilities, I would like to propose alternatives that would allow old people to continue to be in charge of their own lives.

The pain and indignities I have suffered include but are not limited to—
• Being threatened with being stripped naked in front of employees not involved in my care.
• Having the batteries and charger removed from my power wheelchair in the middle of the night to prevent me from leaving my bed the next day.
• Waiting two hours for pain medication.
• Being emotionally harassed by immature young aides.
• Being forced by denial of personal care and dressing to stay in bed.
• Having call bells go unanswered for up to 1-3/4 hours.
• Not getting perineal care or teeth brushed for several days in a row.
• Wrongfully having my wheelchair taken away to force me to stay in bed while having a demented roommate.
• Having my catheter replacement appointment canceled and no alternative set up.
• Being denied breakfast until 9:30 a.m. and supper until 7:10 p.m.
• Being forced to wear paper diapers for ten days because staff lost my own underwear and wouldn’t replace it.
I have made every effort in my considerable experience to seek to compel the nursing home to treat me with safety, comfort and dignity. The agencies and persons all make lists and write reports: no one says they can enforce the necessary interventions. I have contacted and tried to work with—
• Mark Miller, NYS Ombudsman
• Alan Blanchard, Regional Ombudsman
• Jeanette, local Ombudsman
• Catholic Charities
• Senator John DeFrancisco’s office
• NYS Nursing Home hotline
• NYS Dept. of Health (DOH), Syracuse
• Various DOH offices in Albany
• DOH annual investigation team
• Onondaga County Human Rights
• NYS Dept. of Human Rights
• NYS Justice Center
• HHS Office of Civil Rights
• Legal Aide
• Americans with Disabilities
• NYS Office of Aging
Without exception, all of the above said there was nothing they could do about enforcing rights for residents of nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.

Therefore, I propose that all such residents be treated in a manner consistent with their lifestyle prior to entering a facility and consistent with living independently:
1. Breakfast will be served between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.; lunch between 11:45 and 1:15; supper between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m., at the discretion of the resident.
2. Two showers a week.
3. Clean-up (teeth brushed, washed up and dressed) every day before noon.
4. Every resident who requests it shall be transported to every recreational activity, regardless of time, unless there is a conflict with therapy.
5. Call bells are to be answered within ten minutes of being activated.
6. Requests for pain medication or toileting are to be accommodated immediately.
7. Every bed is to have a telephone within arm’s reach.
8. Posted within sight of the bed shall be the telephone numbers of the nursing station, nursing supervisor, patient advocate and facility director.
9. The position of patient advocate shall be created in every facility, in the manner that all facilities have HIPAA officers.
10. No employee may curse his/her superior or refuse a direct order.
11. Staff or management will prevent residents from wandering around randomly.
12. Arrangements must be made to keep residents with mental incompetency from screaming and otherwise disturbing the rest of the residents.
13. Wage increases will be given annually based on merit: merit will be determined by vote of residents being served by employees on the unit. Middle- and upper-management raises will be prorated on the basis of employees providing direct service to residents.
All regulations must be enforced.
1. Any employee who curses or refuses a direct order will be advised, on the first instance, that if there is a recurrence then the employee will be fired on the spot.
2. The patient advocate must resolve every patient’s complaint within ten days of its filing.
3. Three instances of an employee not immediately accommodating pain medication and toileting will result in the employee being terminated, unless the employee can prove it was a physical impossibility, in which case, management has thirty days in which to hire additional staff.
4. Items 1, 2, 3 and 5: if they are not done and there is proof that they cannot be done with the existing staff, then additional staff must be hired within 30 days.
5. Any staff known to be sleeping, listening to music, texting, on a cell phone or engaging in any activity other than assigned work will be given one warning. The second time will result in termination or transfer to another department; third time is termination.
6. In the first year of enactment of this proposal, there will be a transition period. Each disciplinary action will be called a demerit for the institution. After the first year, if there are X number of demerits then the relevant unit or department director will be terminated.
7. If three or more directors are terminated within 18 months then the head of the facility will be terminated.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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2 Responses to The Rights of People Residing in Nursing Homes and Rehabilitation Facilities

  1. Diane says:

    love your suggestings you gutsy lady. I so admire you and dread getting older myself!

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