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Are Resident IDs Needed?

February 28, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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The Director of Nursing said when she is arranging resident medical appointments and transportation, she is asked to send along the resident's photo ID. She wondered why they would need a photo ID. Most of our residents are transported in a facility vehicle and accompanied by a facility aide. If they are transported by an ambulette or other paratransit, they have a family member or an aide with them and the face sheet from their chart.

During my many medical appointments recently, I have heard a doctor's staff complain because some nursing home residents are left at their office alone. They said it was a difficult situation.

When I go to medical appointments, a driver accompanies me and I always have my state ID and my Medicare card with me. The one thing I seldom have is my Medicaid card because the facility keeps it. Most medical providers want a copy of my insurance cards every time I see them. I end up embarrassed if I forget to bring a copy with me.

Doctors and medical facilities want to be sure that they are treating the right person. Although, I have offered the facility paperwork at doctor's appointments and they have refused it.

Residents may need to have some form of identification. Years ago each resident here had an ID bracelet. It was a simple plastic bangle with our name on the inside that we were supposed to wear all the time. I could not wear mine because I wore splints on my arms at night. So I put my ID bracelet on my power wheelchair. Most residents wore their bracelets, but some did not and others just attached the IDs to their wheelchairs.

If identification is needed, many residents could travel to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a state ID. But those with dementia would have difficulties with the process, and some residents are too ill to travel there.

I can see that the day is coming when it will be necessary for each resident to have some sort of certified photo ID card that is updated regularly.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...