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2014 Residents' Voice Entries

The Resident’s Voice is an opportunity for residents from facilities across the country to share their ideas about this year’s Residents’ Rights Month theme with other residents, ombudsmen, families, community members and nursing home staff. Find 2014 entries below.

Resident Name: Mary Lindley
Facility Name: Libertywood Nursing and Rehab. Center, Thomasville, NC

Resident Mary Lindley with staff member Peggy Darr

Why are adequate staffing levels in nursing homes important to you?
It provides better care and allows the staff to attend to more patient’s needs.  Without adequate staffing the patients are the ones that lose out on their rights for good care.

Describe a time when a staff person has gone out of their way to help you or made you feel special.
I feel all of the nursing staff has gone out of their way it help me feel at home. They have been there right when I call for them.

What do you think should be done to ensure there is enough staff to provide good care to residents in all nursing homes?
Better pay and benefits for the staff. That way they feel more like doing for the patients they know that they are appreciated.

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Resident Name: Jonathon Tesh
Facility Name: Libertywood Nursing and Rehab. Center, Thomasville, NC

Resident Jonathon Tesh with staff member Tammy Seacrest

Why are adequate staffing levels in nursing homes important to you?
To provide proper care for the patients.

Describe a time when a staff person has gone out of their way to help you or made you feel special.
I did not eat supper one day. Tammy went to McDonalds and got me food without asking me.

Describe a time when you raised a concern about staffing at your facility and your voice was heard.
When our resident census went up. I voiced we needed more help they got more staff on the hall.

What do you think should be done to ensure there is enough staff to provide good care to residents in all nursing homes?
Adequate pay, communication, team work, benefits, special rewards for staff that go above and beyond.

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Resident Name: Joyce Almquist
Facility Name: Rose Terrace Cottages Assisted Living, Coeur d'Alene, ID

This is a beautiful place, to live and grow
There are wonderful people, to learn and know.
Friendships are made, some deep and long
Help is here when things go wrong.

This is a place for love and rest
There are opportunities to do one's best.
Here is where there is much beauty to learn,
Here is where there is care and concern.

For those who are dysfunctional,
Mentally and physically
Care is given to them, to the best of their ability.
Visitors are encouraged to come visit and see,
How we are cared for compassionately.

Friends and family can surely testify how we are,
Loved and given the utmost dignity.

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Resident Name: Brian Capshaw
Location: East Hartford, CT

Why are adequate staffing levels in nursing homes important to you?
Adequate staffing levels allow residents to maintain a daily routine they may have been used to before they entered the nursing home, like being an early riser.  If there is adequate staff on the day shift all residents should be able to have the choice on what their daily routine will be.

Describe a time when a staff person has gone out of their way to help you or make you feel special.
In my nursing home each resident has a specific aide assigned to you for your daily care.  On a recent occasion my assigned aide was very busy and I wanted to be dressed and in my wheelchair within the next 15 minutes.  An aide from another unit jumped in and I will help you because you are easy to do.  That rarely happens so it made me feel good.

Describe a time when you raised a concern about staffing at your facility and your voice was heard.
After a bad survey in 2013 where staffing was cited as an issue, our facility was short staffed on our second shift, I contacted our vice president of operations and an agency was called and the vacancy was filled.

What do you think should be done to ensure there is enough staff to provide good care to all residents in nursing homes?
First there needs to be a federal mandate of at least 3.2 HPRD (hours per resident per day), that just includes nurses and nurse aides.  Second survey enforcement needs to have more bite, the small state civil monetary penalties do not hit nursing home operators/owners deep enough in the pocket to make poor performing operators/owners add more staff to ensure quality care. 

Brian Capshaw is a member of the Consumer Voice Leadership Council.

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Resident Name: Dick Weinman
Facility Name: Corvallis Caring Place, Corvallis, OR


I stand with my back toward her, my pants tugging my ankles. I bend over, and  grasp the silver-grey, cold metal handicap bar. She wields the toilet paper, extends her arm, and wipes.

That’s her job. It’s part of what I pay $4400+ for each month. So why do I gripe?

It’s because I wish she and some other caregivers would put more feeling into the job.  I don’t mean they should lovingly caress my behind while they wipe – that probably wouldn’t get anything clean, anyway.  But a caregiver could respond to my call for help with sincerity, and mean it when she says, “What can I do to help you?” (That’s the stock reply when a caregiver enters a room to give assistance, spoken in varying degrees of sincerity.)

I want the caregiver to approach me as a person, not as a room number, which had flashed on the screen of her iPod when I called for help.  I’d be grateful if she relates to me with “dignity and compassion” - the  words that Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) use to market themselves.  I would appreciate an expression of some understanding of what I can’t do for myself and need her to do for me.

 I quietly fume at caregivers who do their work perfunctorily, disinterestedly, carelessly – caregivers who don’t care, or, as one of those who do care said of one of her colleagues, “she doesn’t give a rat’s butt.” Caregivers like that really piss me off.

 But, I’m fortunate that many of the caregivers employed by my ALF have their hearts in their work.  They care.

It’s not surprising that the majority of them are middle aged women, who depend on the pittance that caregivers are paid to support their families, pay their bills, live their lives - pay for soccer team, swimming lessons, volleyball camp, and all that makes a family life in our society. They know how to care – and they do.


What is a Caregiver?   It’s a name.  It’s a category of employee, identifying one who helps elders needing assistance. In the many kinds of Long Term Care institutions  that house society’s elders, the caregiver is indispensable.  She’s the “ground soldier” in the battle to keep people’s lives livable.

Her assistance covers a wide range of degrees of intimacy between herself and a resident.  The most intimate is touching, such as occurs during toileting and showering. Slightly less intimate is dressing and undressing. Even less is applying lotion to the skin. The range of activities extends from cutting nails, shaving, brushing hair, inserting hearing aids, and q-tipping ears.

Then there are the needs from random acts of violent bodily eruptions: cleaning up after accidental vomiting or incontinent explosive diarrhea.

That might make it hard for a caregiver to answer a friend who asks, “what did you do today at work?”


There are other less less personal - less dealing with bodily fluids, functions, and cavities – types of care.  I need a Caregiver for ordinary things: to open my mail, to insert a letter into an envelope, to address the envelope.

I’ve given you a glimpse of what’s done for me and other elders who can’t do for themselves.

Who can do it? Who should do it?

In many parts of the country, middle age women-of-color, whose job supports a family, are caregivers.  It’s a low paying job: think minimum wage.

 In my facility, located in a college town, many caregivers are twenty-something white college students. Some would-be caregivers need a part time job to offset the high cost of college. That’s why they need work that fits easily into a school term’s course schedule.  Students who plan to apply to nursing school need health care experience; some students try to show a multi-dimensional persona on any job application; some need community service for course credit; some sororities require members to volunteer; and, hopefully, some applicants actually want to help others.

Who decides who is to be a caregiver?

In the modest size ALF in which I live, the Human Resource decision is made by two people. First is the Director of Health Management, a nurse. The ultimate judge of the motivation and character of the applicant is the ALF Administrator. S/he decides. I think this process creates the problem.

Other caregivers aren’t consulted, but they should be. If the applicant is hired, she will be a colleague of the current caregivers,  maybe even share a shift.  Morale and team work must be forged between caregivers if they’re adequately to give care to a resident.

 Those of us who are here to have the remaining years of our lives made tolerable and comfortable comfortable – livable, aren’t consulted either.  Why should not a resident be part of the screening process? Or a resident’s family member who placed the resident in the facility, and most likely pays for the service.

In industry, employee groups have input in management hiring.  In universities, students are represented on search committees. Why not a selective few of us, who may have an ass wiped by the future caregiver?

Dick Weinman writes a blog on his experiences in an assisted living facility for Oregon AARP Blog.

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Resident Name: Mr. Graum
Location: Texarkana, TX

Dear Facility,

The purpose of this letter is to express deep concerns about the prolonged refusal of administrations to improve conditions that will make the lives of their residents more pleasant and more comfortable and reflect a regard for our dignity.

We know that we have limited time remaining on this earth and we are also limited on just how much we can control our environments. That is why we feel that the facility’s primary focus should not make us feel like we are just a way for the company to make a profit. Although one person is writing this letter, it reflects the sentiments of many of the people who live in nursing facilities. I believe as a resident council president it is my role to express these concerns to you.

Here is what we do not understand: we are the customer. The Company that owns these facilities have us over a barrel. We can gripe but they get their money anyway. There is no penalty for indifference. The attitude is if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.” These are our homes. We don’t want a change of residence. We have friends here. We are familiar with everything here. Why are we insulted with this arrogant attitude? Why are our feelings made to feel unimportant, just more of the same old complaints from old people.

Despite our request here are a few of the things that it seems that the administration never reviews: 

  1. Residents who can’t feed themselves don’t get fed if they are at the table

  2. Residents that are unable to open packets, don’t get them

  3. Residents preference and dislikes are being ignored

  4. Large amounts of food is wasted because it is not eaten

  5. No consistency to meals

  6. Food not cooked properly and unrecognizable

  7. No satisfactorily substitution

  8. Staff shortage: delays in our medication, call lights and any  other help

  9. Chronic pain users don’t always get their medication

These are just a few of the situations we as “old people“ endure in nursing facilities.  It is understood that a facility can never please everyone 100% of the time. However we deserve better than this. We would just like people to adhere to our rights as individuals and residents. Residents in facilities have rights too. Better Staffing for Better Care is the Key. Give us staff that appreciate our contribution on this earth. Give us Better Staff for Better Care!


Mr. Graum

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Residents at Gainesville Health and Rehab in Gainesville, VA

Handwritten responses.