Turning the Tide: Empowering Voices in America’s Nursing Homes

In the heart of America’s nursing homes, where the wisdom of ages resides, a transformative movement is taking root. It’s a movement driven by care, respect, and above all, listening. The recent report by the Long Term Care Community Coalition, titled “They Make You Pay”: How Fear of Retaliation Silences Residents in America’s Nursing Homes, is not just a call to action—it’s an invitation to lead with empathy and integrity.

A New Chapter Begins

This comprehensive 141-page report, while shedding light on the fears that residents of long-term care facilities have about speaking out, is also a beacon of hope. It’s a roadmap that guides us, the administrators and caretakers, to foster environments where our residents not only feel heard but cherished.

The Heart of the Matter

One of the report’s poignant narratives involves a Resident Council meeting, where staff inadvertently disrupted the residents’ privacy. As the report states, “The residents in attendance stated that they preferred to meet without the staff present. However, staff still came in and out of their meetings without regard to the sign placed on the door. The residents stated that this was a violation of their privacy, and they had made reports to the nursing home’s staff” (Page 70).

The Power of Positive Change

For administrators of long-term care centers, this report is an inspiring challenge. It’s an opportunity to champion a culture of openness and respect. Here’s how we can be the heroes our residents need:

  1. Cultivate Trust and Openness: Let’s create spaces where residents feel safe and encouraged to express themselves, knowing they are respected and valued.
  2. Educate and Inspire Our Teams: Let’s invest in our staff with training that emphasizes empathy, active listening, and the residents’ rights to dignity and autonomy.
  3. Stand Firm for Justice: Let’s enact and uphold strict non-retaliation policies, making it clear that our residents’ voices are sacrosanct.
  4. Embrace Transparency: Let’s work hand-in-hand with regulatory bodies, showcasing our commitment to excellence and our proactive approach to continual improvement.
  5. Engage Heart-to-Heart with Residents and Families: Let’s not just meet with our residents and their families—let’s truly connect with them, inviting their insights and honoring their role in our community.

The Future is Bright

The title of the report, “They Make You Pay”, is a stark reminder of the emotional toll that fear can take. But as administrators, we have the power to rewrite this narrative. We can turn our facilities into havens of respect, trust, and love.

In the words of a wise resident, as quoted in the report: “We are not here to be silenced. We are here to be cared for”. For all of us in long-term care administration, this is our moment. It’s our time to listen, to act, and to be the change-makers our residents deserve.

This article is inspired by the report “They Make You Pay”: How Fear of Retaliation Silences Residents in America’s Nursing Homes by the Long Term Care Community Coalition. Administrators and stakeholders in long-term care are encouraged to read the full report for a comprehensive understanding of this critical issue.


Let this be our guiding star: In our hands, we hold the power to transform lives through care, compassion, and unwavering respect. Let’s rise to this noble calling.

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