How to Make Your Own Long-Term Care Decisions

March 10, 2005 at 5:55 pm  •  Posted in Residential & Long-Term Care by  •  0 Comments

Staff and Family Concerns
Tell Your Family and the Staff What Matters to You
Take Part in Your Resident Service Plan
Know Your Rights
Find and Use and Advocate



Even if you are no longer living in your own home and have moved into a long-term care facility, you still want to be able to make decisions about the parts of your life that matter most to you. Now and then, you might like to smoke a cigarette, drink an alcoholic beverage, or go off a special diet. Even if it risks harming your health, you may want to do it. Staff and family concerns may limit you from living your life the way you’d like.

Staff and Family Concerns

The staff of your residence?and your family?may try to balance your right to live how you want with the way they see their responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Maybe it’s important for you to decide whether to go for a walk by yourself, as best you can, knowing you might fall. But the staff may think you’d be safer in a wheelchair. They may feel your danger of falling is bigger than you think.

The staff may feel their job is to protect you and do things for you, instead of helping you to be as independent as possible. This may come from their own beliefs, from your family’s instructions, or from what they think a government agency requires. They may also be concerned about getting sued.

But you don’t need to accept these limits. Talk with your family and the staff about what you want to do and which decisions you want to make for yourself.

Tell Your Family and the Staff What Matters to You

People who mean well and are concerned about your safety and well-being surround you. Tell them about your values. Explain the benefits of any choice you want to make?even the plus side of any risks you may want to take. Do you want to take a walk by yourself, for example? Tell the staff if you’ve always loved walking. Explain that it may help keep up your strength.

Take Part in Your Resident Service Plan

If you want your services provided in a certain way, you need to make sure your Resident Service Plan describes how. Your doctor or nurse should be available to discuss your medical needs and how to meet them. Find out if?and when?staff members meet to discuss your plan. Attend these meetings with your family. Help write and update your plan to ensure it reflects your needs and wants. For example:

  • Do you like baths, not showers?
  • Are you trying to be more independent in toileting yourself?
  • Do you need to share your needs and wants in a language other than English?

Your plan should say so.

Know Your Rights

Rights seldom come automatically. You have to assert them. The first step? Find out:

  • Your residence’s obligations to you
  • Your specific rights to choice and decision-making, or general rights that support free action
  • Your admissions agreement or contract or your state or local government regulations
Find and Use an Advocate

Sometimes you may want an outside advocate’s help?maybe to get information, or to help resolve a complaint that wasn’t handled well. Know the advocacy resources in your community, and call on them when needed. Many communities have a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. It can suggest ways to get the best possible assisted living. Your local Agency on Aging may list other advocacy groups in your area. These organizations may be part of a big consumer community, where you can join with others to achieve the potential of assisted living.

Source: Resident’s Guide for Assisted Living. Maintain Your Independence Choice, and Control. Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled (CIAD) and the Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York State (NHCC).


Leave a Reply