Residents’ individual rights top of mind at Woodland


‘A couple wanting to explore a bit has that right’

Monday, January 27, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

Long-term care residents have the right to explore their feelings and can and do pursue relationships in their own home, an administrator says.

When asked what’s top of mind when it comes to sexuality and safety in long-term care, Woodland Villa administrator Michael Rasenberg says it’s “the individual rights of residents.”

“It’s such a fine line as to what rights they have in regards to their feelings and (interactions) between each other,” Rasenberg says.

“A couple wanting to explore a bit has that right, as long as they’re consenting and it’s in an appropriate setting.”

Woodland has a few married couples residing at the 111-bed long-term care home in Long Sault, Ont. Some spouses share rooms, others do not. When they visit each other, what they do behind closed doors is up to them, Rasenberg says.

However, the feelings between male and female residents aren’t always mutual. Occasionally staff members at the home find themselves in a position where a relationship or the desire for a companionship poses an ethical dilemma. In such cases, Rasenberg says the home turns to OMNI’s corporate document, The OMNIway Ethical Framework, for guidance.

For instance, questions arise when a resident is approached by another resident and it’s evident the first resident is not welcoming those advances. When it’s clear the affection isn’t shared by both individuals, it must be investigated from a safety perspective, the administrator says.

If there’s a case involving two consenting residents but a power of attorney who is displeased with the relationship, the home airs on the side of the residents. In one situation, residents said to staff “our rights aren’t being respected here’ – and they’re right. We talked about their rights and set some parameters from a safety aspect and it’s worked out well,” Rasenberg says.

Men and women living together, coupled with cognitive impairment, can present a host of moral, ethical, safety and security issues.

The OMNIway is taking a closer look at sexuality and safety in long-term care. Through a series of stories, interviews and videos, Axiom News is exploring the rights, risks and regulations related to the issue of sexuality and safety.

Stay tuned to the OMNIway for stories unpacking these issues.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at) or call Axiom News at 800-294-0051.

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