Patients and residents in nursing homes and other long-term care (LTC) facilities may face challenges due to their deteriorating health conditions, mainly caused by old age. As a result, appropriate communication forms an essential part of their daily routines to ensure that they can have a better quality of life. By communicating efficiently and consistently, patients and residents receive better care since their needs are properly understood by nursing assistants who spend a majority of their time with them (Martin, 2013). Further, by following guidelines, health care providers in LTC can respect and uphold the rights of those in their care. Therefore, enhanced communication plays a significant role in developing an appropriate culture that protects residents’ and patients’ rights while in LTC facilities.
Communication refers to the exchange of information with others using different means available. Such interactions may either be verbal or non-verbal in nature. Verbal communication involves the use of words in conversations that may be face-to-face or electronic, through media such as telephones. On the other hand, non-verbal communication refers to the use of other characteristics such as facial expressions, body language, or gestures in place of words. In most cases, this type of communication is unintentional, with an individual displaying cues without their knowledge (Martin, 2013). As a result, people must pay attention to such cues to capture the intended message being portrayed by the other party. Such communication may be referred to as the sender-receiver-feedback model, which hinges on a complete cycle of interaction.
In LTC, communication becomes a critical aspect of daily routines with patients and residents interacting with their care providers to meet their needs. Enhancing this communication ensures that the intended messages are passed in the shortest time possible. Nursing assistants can thus improve their ability to communicate with residents and patients by being good listeners. This provides the opportunity for them to internalize both verbal and non-verbal cues that may highlight the needs of the individual. Further, messages passed to individuals in LTC must be clear to prevent any misunderstanding that may be life-threatening. Additionally, nursing assistants should learn to employ the various techniques that encourage individuals to talk, especially in cases where they may seem irritable or distressed (Martin, 2013). Finally, minding body language also ensures that residents do not perceive any cues showing disinterest in a conversation. These tactics form the basis for enhanced communication in LTC, hence, leading to a better quality of life for both patients and residents in the long run.
More so, reporting and recording data by nursing assistants form the basis for decision-making by nurses or doctors in LTC facilities. As a result, observations made by the assistant, either objectively or subjectively, must be accurately noted down. This includes the aspect of changes in patient or resident conditions, responses to treatment, complaints of pain or discomfort, and refusal of treatment (Martin, 2013). Appropriately recording such situations provides other caregivers with information to react, and appropriate responses are taken to avert a crisis. Recording further becomes legally binding since any form of care not recorded is assumed not to have been provided in the facility. Consequently, care providers must adhere to protocols and guidelines on reporting and recording to continuously provide appropriate care in LTC.
Patient and Resident Rights
Patients and residents have rights protected under a law that provide guidelines aimed at protecting individuals in LTC and creating an atmosphere of open communication. Martin (2013) highlights that “in 1973, the American Hospitals Association adopted the patient bill of rights that was designed to guide the interactions of patients, health care providers and administrators.” Further, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) also outlines the rights of residents in nursing homes and other facilities. These laws and regulations ensure that both patients and residents receive the highest quality of care at their most vulnerable stage of life. According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2006), “certification is when the SA officially recommends its findings regarding whether healthcare entities meet the Act’s provider or supplier definitions, and whether the entities comply with standards required by Federal regulations” (1012A). Ultimately, this means that these rights are protected under Federal and State laws that regulate the running of LTC facilities.
The three fundamental rights commonly known include the right to privacy, confidentiality, and autonomy. The right to privacy ensures the protection of a patient’s ability to withhold information or aspects of their life from the scrutiny of others. Wilensky and Teitelbaum (2019) state that “important individual rights within health care include the right to make informed healthcare decisions and the right to personal privacy and autonomy” (119). This may be implemented by closing doors or covering the patient before administering personal care or medical care. More so, confidentiality ensures that information shared by patients by any means is kept private and only seen by authorized individuals. This is reinforced by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which regulates access to patient data, including medical records, data, and private information (Martin, 2013). Finally, the right to autonomy provides patients and residents with the ability to make decisions regarding their care. This means that the preferences and choices of individuals in LTC must be respected with regard to issues such as clothes, personal care, or the ability to refuse certain procedures. These rights thus ensure the maintenance of the quality of life for patients and residents through these legal channels provided in the country.
Upholding the rights of patients and residents in LTC facilities safeguards their stay and improves their ability to live fulfilling lives. In the long run, the aim of nursing homes lies in their ability to provide a safe home through which individuals can comfortably enjoy the environment. Consequently, this may be achieved through adequate communication models that relay information effectively up the channel. Health organizations must have appropriate measures in place that guide providers during the course of their work to prevent any mishaps. Furthermore, patients should be able to access their medical records on demand to check any progress and aid in their decision-making. Health care providers can maintain privacy and confidentiality of patient and resident information by only speaking about patient information when necessary to a person involved with directly providing care to the patient. Additionally, caregivers should only speak about patients in designated areas with adequate privacy while handling medical charts/computers properly by following policies or guidelines in place.
Enhanced communication, therefore, plays a significant role in developing an appropriate culture that protects residents’ and patients’ rights while in LTC facilities. Caregivers in LTC must pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues to capture the intended message being portrayed by the other party creating the sender-receiver-feedback model, which hinges on a complete cycle of interaction to pass a message. Additionally, the fundamental constitutional rights, including the rights to privacy, confidentiality, and autonomy, must be respected by all residents and patients. Ultimately, upholding them consistently and without discrimination improves the overall well-being of individuals, thus guaranteeing them an improved quality of life despite their vulnerabilities.
Martin, D. (2013). Patients and resident’s rights [Video]. YouTube. Web.
U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2006) State Operations Manual: Publication #100-07. Web.
Wilensky, S. E., & Teitelbaum, J. B. (2019). Essentials of health policy and law (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.