I would imagine that many communities have situations occur in which a resident is called to the Principal's office (er, Exec Dir's office or Resident Svcs Manager's office) because of a reported behavior "issue." As a for instance, said resident is informed out of the blue that "a dining employee reported feeling disrespected by how you treated him at lunch." Often the resident is completely blindsided and denies being disrespectful. He asks for specifics, "What did I say or do?" but has no luck learning anything. He asks for other residents at the same table to be asked what they observed, but to no avail. The resident is embarrassed and feels very "wronged."
One of the other residents at the table was a career investigative reporter and is flummoxed, asking to be summoned so more particulars can be provided. There was no summons of those tablemates; no interest by management in getting anyone's input other than from the dining personnel.
Maybe a formal grievance policy would require "hearing from all principal parties," but there is none here.
Does your community have a grievance policy for residents?
Our Resident Handbook states:
If you have a concern or complaint, you are encouraged to address the matter directly by presenting the issue to the appropriate staff member, department head, or the Executive Director. It is the policy of Goodwin House that all concerns and/or complaints will be addressed directly and in a timely manner without reprisal or retaliation. You may also lodge a concern or complaint with the Resident Council. There is a Suggestion Box in the resident Mailroom; suggestions may also be made online via the resident website (www.ghbcresidents.org under Council & Committees). If you wish to discuss your concern with external governing authorities, you may contact the appropriate licensing agency and/or the Virginia Ombudsman’s Office.
GHBC has an Ombudsman who visits on a regular basis. Concerns can be expressed in writing and left for the Ombudsman at the Reception Desk or appointments to meet personally can be arranged through the Social Worker ext. 7114 (Health Care Center), ext. 7122 (Assisted Living/Terrace), or ext. 7225 (Independent Living).
What is the law that governs the responsibility and authority of the Resident Council in Virginia? Is the Resident Council obliged to take up residents' concern with management or may they dismiss them without justification? Does the Code of Virginia § 55.1-1201 apply to residents of Independent Living (with Fee-for-service contracts)? If Virginia § 55.1-1201 does apply, what rights does this give to residents?
I am not aware that any law governs resident councils, Enver. The Goodwin House approach is that management and other staff work in our home -- I suppose things would be very different if it were turned around and we lived in their workspace.
At our CCRC the election notice soliciting candidates for RAC states: “Fulfills all requirements for a Residents’ Association under applicable law”. When asked what "applicable law” does the notice refer to neither the election committee nor RAC members were able to provide an answer. This law may define RAC's authority and responsibility. Is RAC only a communication vehicle with management? Is RAC more like a Union or Association fighting for residents' rights?
Our RC is nothing like a union. There is zero advocacy for resident rights or protections. Nothing controversial ever gets into the minutes, and suggestions are screened by the RC Vice-Chair and some never go to the full council for discussion. It is a lacky to management which has the only real vote on resident suggestions/comments. The reps and executive council are more about getting along with management.
Resident of a CCRC
I checked with our COO (formerly our Exec. Dir.) about whether there is a law. Regulations state that residents have the right to self-organize. You might find useful information in the Guide to Regulation of Continuing Care Communities on the VaCCRA home page
My experience here at Goodwin House verifies what Claudia described. Everyone on staff seems to try to live up to the Goodwin House mission “to support, honor and uplift the lives of older adults and those who care for them.“ Most residents behave in the spirit of the mission. Residents are not shy about privately counseling those who seem to stray from the spirit of the mission.
Wonderful overview. And excellent policy. Question:
The ombudsman bill in VA for those in independent living has not passed yet. Is the ombudsman person in your policy who visits also for those in independent living? A phone number is given for them. Is it a state position, perhaps with a county level ombudsman who visits? Or has the provider hired an ombudsman outside of the CCRC governance on their own?
Because our assisted living and skilled nursing are just different floors in the same building as independent living, Virginia licenses our entire building as a skilled nursing facility. That allows us to get around the fact that there is no ombudsman specifically for independent living residents in CCRCs.
Here is the grievance procedure from Charlestown in Catonsville. Maryland Law requires a grieance procedure.
Resident Grievance Procedure
On rare occasions, a resident may remain dissatisfied with an issue to the point they wish to pursue the matter beyond the office of the Executive Director. In accordance with Maryland Law, and in cooperation with the Residents' Council, the Charlestown Board of Directors provides a formal grievance procedure for such manners. A Grievance committee comprised of residents, Board Member and staff will hear both sides of the issues and render a judgment. Copies of the Grievance Procedure can be obtained by request through the Administration office.
Wwe have other means to bring issues forward before using the Grievance Procedure. They are through Resident Council Committees, Resident Town Halls and Conversations with Executive Team (rotate through campus), and a Council Communication Form which can be used when existing channels have been exhausted. The form is availabe on the Council sponssored website. https://ccicharlestown.org/council/council-communication-form/