|Resident Councils In Nursing Homes|
What is a nursing home Resident Council?
A Resident Council is an independent, organized group of people living in a nursing home that meets on a regular basis to discuss concerns, develop suggestions on improving services and plan social activities.
The sizes and structure of Councils varies widely. Some Resident Councils
function well with up to 30 residents at meetings. Others are effective with only a
few active members. Leadership styles vary as does the amount of resident
The lives of nursing home residents are heavily controlled by laws, rules and policies set by the government and the nursing home. Compromises in life styles become necessary due to health problems and the close quarters in which residents live. These compromises and controls can make nursing home residents feel like their opinions and preferences do not matter.
Many nursing home residents are not content to give up control over their lives. They want an active role in life and the chance to influence decisions which affect them. A Resident Council gives them that chance.
Effective Resident Councils
Do residents have a right to meet as a council?
Federal and state laws give residents the right to meet as a council. At the time of admission, nursing homes are required to inform new residents of their right to establish a council if one does not exist or to participate in the activities of a council which is already operating.
Councils have the right to meet privately or to invite members of the nursing home's staff, relatives, friends, or members of community organizations to participate in the meetings. The residents of a home may invite a staff person to serve as liaison to the Council, to attend council meetings if requested and to provide needed support services and assistance such as typing minutes and correspondence.
How are Resident Councils organized?
The structure of a Resident Council can be the key to its success. The size of the home and the abilities and needs of the residents are important factors to consider in selecting a structure.
In small homes, Resident Councils are frequently operated as open meetings for all interested residents. There may be a steering committee to help plan meeting agendas and to follow up on decisions made by the Council. Larger homes often have Councils made up of representatives either elected or recruited from different sections of the facility. Council representatives are responsible for seeking the concerns and suggestions of residents in their area and for bringing this information to the meetings.
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