Long-term care facilities promote principles of Residents’ Rights Month


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Evanston care facilities celebrate residents’ rights month.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

As Residents’ Rights Month comes to a close this October, leaders of long-term care facilities and community centers in Evanston said they will continue to emphasize residents’ right to respect, dignity, autonomy and quality care.

Victoria Gruber, manager of the Adult Day Services program at CJE SeniorLife — a nonprofit organization that provides housing, community engagement and health education — said ADS’ mission to promote residents’ individuality correlates to the mission of Residents’ Rights Month.

CJE clients don’t live at the center, they visit for the day. The program’s structure aims to keep residents involved in their own communities as long as possible and help them foster independence, Gruber said. The program also teaches residents’ loved ones proper care techniques, she added.

“A center like ours is somewhat of a stepping stone for folks before they might need to have long-term care facilities,” Gruber said. “We’ve seen a strong shift to this person-centered care, so that’s making sure clients have choice while they’re here.”

Gruber said a daily activities calendar offers multiple options so clients can choose their activity, which is crucial as long-term care facilities can restrict residents to regiments and hinder independence.

Jennifer Eason, owner of local American and Jamaican soul food restaurant Jennifer’s Edibles — which distributes food to senior residents in the city — said it is about time that Evanston formally recognizes its residents.

Eason and her brother began distributing the meals when their friends who moved out of state asked them to check in on and feed their parents. She said they fed an average of 200 seniors a day during the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We thought initially that this was just COVID related, but as we got to know our seniors in the community, we realized how much food insecurity they were actually dealing with,” Eason said.

Gruber said residents’ rights should be a consistent priority, which CJE demonstrates by holding a monthly town hall, a client forum for members to express their opinions and annual caregiver and participant surveys.

Monalisa — who requested only her first name be used for privacy reasons — is an employee at Dobson Plaza Nursing Home, which provides rehabilitation, long-term care and respite services. She said for participants at Dobson, the facility is their home. Workers must ensure residents are comfortable.

Monalisa said she always speaks to residents before creating an activities calendar to make sure it contains things that interest them.

“In the morning we start with very mild physical activities like simple exercise,” Monalisa said. “We use styrofoam to do yoga … In the background we’ll put jazz or Frank Sinatra, and they love it so much.”

She said she’s heard from residents that physical activity wakes them up and prepares them for afternoon programming: usually arts and crafts or games. They also do therapeutic paintings, quizzes, trivia, debate, and bingo –– which Monalisa said is a favorite.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) revealed a mayoral proclamation at a Sept. 27 City Council meeting designating October as National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month in Evanston.

The city’s Long Term Care Ombudsperson Candice Mitchell said the city aims to create meaningful change in the treatment of residents. In many localities across the country, residents are sometimes subject to mistreatment, including physical abuse and isolation, according to the Nursing Home Abuse Center.

“The City of Evanston is passionate about supporting resident rights and promoting nursing home culture change,” Mitchell said in an email to The Daily.

Monalisa said seeing residents clap and cheer each other on makes daily activities and the overall residential care experience fun for her.

“We are here because of them,” Monalisa said. “The most important thing is for them to have a very good quality of life.”

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Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

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