Adapting to Different Religious Preferences

By far the most common type of facility is based on either no religious preference or some form of Christianity.  It is far and few between to find a facility that that specialized in other religions like Judaism, Buddhism or Muslim.  However all is not lost, families of different faiths can be accommodated.  Every ICF facility has a dietitian that can accommodate religious preferences so that the resident receives all the nutrition they need regardless of any special accommodations.  Staff is trained extensively to handle all kind of special diets for various reasons.  There is no reason that facilities cannot accommodate for Special Holidays and Observances.  

The basic reason that they don’t is that they are either unaware of different religious practices or how to go about observing them.  No facility is allowed to turn away a person based on their religious preferences and it is written into the regulations that all residents are allowed to attend any religious affiliation that they care to.  It is the facilities responsibility to provide each resident access to all religious practices they require.  This includes transportation and staff to take them to religious events.  Facilities must allow for traditional religious expressions and rights.  If a resident prays several times a day, they need to be provided with a prayer mat and an individual schedule to accommodate prayer times (even at a day program).   Residents need to be allowed to take communion and be blessed by a priest. 

I remember a resident I had whose family was Jewish in a Christian based home.   We provided an electric menorah for Chanukah and a special diet for throughout the year. When the resident’s mother became ill and not could not for the first time in many years celebrate Passover with her child we asked Rabbi Newman at the local Hebrew Academy what more we could do.  He was more than happy to explain in detail not just what to do, but why. A very close friend donated some Haggadahs (a Jewish religious text) and we were able to celebrate the Passover Seder.

The resident’s mother took out time with the staff to answer their many questions about the differences between Christianity compared to Judaism.   It was an incredible learning experience for all of us.

I feel that by understanding the different religions we learn more about other cultures and ourselves.   And even if I personally didn’t, it is built into the regulations to provide for those differences or face Clients Rights Violations and a condition of participation out of compliance.

Anne Mason, QIDP