Updated: Apr 5, 2022
By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Digital and Print Publications
Transitioning into a long-term care community can come with a rollercoaster of emotions like fear, doubt, and defeat.
However, what those potential long-term care residents may not realize is that they could have the chance to make a difference in this next chapter of their lives, and a difference in their long-term care community by joining or establishing a resident council.
Section 483.10 in the Official Federal Requirements for States and Long-term Care Facilities states that residents do have a right to organize and participate in resident groups/councils in the facility. Admission packages for residents transitioning into all three of our communities across Oak Hills Care Center, Skyview Nursing Center, and Edmond Health Care Center cover this federal requirement as well, and our communities hold monthly resident council meetings once or twice a month.
What’s Discussed at Resident Council?
Resident council gives the residents the power to influence the quality of care within their long-term care community. Any variable that affects the residents could be discussed at meetings such as differences among the residents and healthcare team, living conditions, meals and activities.
Following an agenda, the residents spend time answering questions on a list provided by the Activities or Social Services Director (SSD), such as, "What was something that you experienced this past month that was positive?" Or, "Do you feel like you are receiving proper care from your doctor?" Along with a list of preset questions, the SSD reviews concerns voiced at the last meeting, and asks the residents if those matters have been aligned to their requests or not.
"We talk about things like, the quality of our laundry, food, activities and holidays," Resident Council President at Skyview Nursing Center, Sylvia O'Neal, said. "We also talk about the nursing team, and whether or not we feel we are being adequately cared for." O'Neal also said that during resident council meetings at Skyview, the residents vote on what their "Meal-of-the-Month" will be for that month. In the past, the residents have had restaurants catered in like Chick-Fil-A and McDonalds. Often times, the residents bring their Meal-of-the-Month requests to their communities dietary manager, and the kitchen cook's the requested meal. "Mostly, the residents are concerned about cigarette smoking than anything else, 24/7, 365 days out of the year. That's just the way it is," O'Neal said.
O'Neal has been the resident council president at Skyview Nursing Center for 3 years, and earlier this year, Oak Hills Care Center has appointed Betsy Powers as their resident council president, and Floyd Strong has been appointed as the resident council president at Edmond Health Care Center.
"As the resident council president, I feel like I am a voice for the residents to Skyview," O'Neal said.
"I give our care team the straight-up truth about how we really feel, and how it really is to be a resident here. There are some residents that may not make sense when they try to voice their concerns, so that's why I talk for them. I keep it real."
Why it's Important:
Like O'Neal said, there are many residents that cannot communicate their concerns the same way that others can, and that's why it is necessary for people like her to be appointed as authoritative figures in resident council to meet with like minded people to discuss not only their concerns but also the concerns of every resident. Oak Hills Resident Council President, Powers, said she agrees, "I am a voice for my fellow residents that can't make it to our resident council meetings."
Many long-term care residents are not content with giving up control over their lives. An active role in their own life, and the chance to influence decisions which affect them is necessary and improves the overall lives of our residents within our long-term care communities.
Resident council meetings also give the chance for residents to gather and socialize, which improves communication, and promotes friendship and teamwork, "It's important to work out our problems together, and find solutions to those problems together too," Resident Council President at EHCC, Strong, said.
The stress of living within a long-term care community that is operated under rules, regulations, and policies can cause a lot of issues among the residents. Giving the residents an outlet to voice those concerns and know that they are being addressed makes all the difference in the quality of care that they receive. Not to mention, our healthcare teams are always open to new ideas and suggestions on how they can improve the community as well.
"There are some people here who just don't want to do anything," O'Neal said. "They're just waiting for the Lord to call them home, so that's why we meet, so we can make sure that even those individuals are receiving adequate care."