Part of our role in caring for seniors is to ensure that our residents maintain their independence and dignity while we help them live a life filled with joy and meaningful activities. To fully embrace this assisted living philosophy, it is necessary to first understand that residents have certain rights that must be upheld.

Residents’ Rights

  • Right to know what their rights are
  • Right to be treated at all times with dignity and respect
  • Right to live in a safe environment
  • Right of choice and independence
  • Right to practice/don’t practice religion
  • Right to choose if they participate/don’t participate in activities
  • Right to control their care (accept or refuse services)
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to confidential and private records
  • Right to control personal finances
  • Right to be free from abuse of any/all kinds (including humiliation, intimidation, exploitation and neglect)
  • Right to be free from chemical or physical constraints
  • Right to voice grievances without fear of reprisal

Interacting with Residents – Independence and Respect

It is surprising how the smallest efforts can mean a great deal to your residents. For instance, talking with your resident at their eye level, even if it means kneeling down; calling them by their preferred name; or offering them a simple smile or look of encouragement conveys respect and compassion. These gestures help to build and strengthen your relationships with the residents. However, one of the most important things to remember is to always act in a manner that maintains a resident’s dignity and self-respect. You can help residents retain their independence and sense of self-worth by:

  • Asking a resident if they need assistance before you take action on their behalf.
  • Walking slowly and staying by the resident’s side for those who have limited mobility. Never hurry ahead or rush them.
  • Tapping into a resident’s interests and expertise which allows them to speak confidently and proudly about a topic.
  • Letting residents make their own decisions. If this seems overwhelming to the resident, limit the number of choices you offer them.

When You Have Concerns

Although there may be times where you have concerns about the choices and decisions a resident in your care is making, you must continue to honor the resident’s right to to make decisions on their own. However, if their choices are posing a risk to themselves or others, try to reach a compromise that will make the resident’s decision safer for everyone.

For more introductory information on caring for senior residents, use SLU’s Orientation to Assisted Living training with your team.