October is a month of awareness for many causes and needs within a community, domestic violence awareness and breast cancer just to name a few. But for many older Americans it is also Residents’ Rights in Long-Term Care Facilities.

This year the theme is “Stand for Quality,” which emphasizes the importance of quality in all aspects of residents’ experiences – quality care, quality of life, quality services, and quality choices.

Kim Rhodes, Ombudsman Supervisor, said sometimes when residents enter a long-term care facility, they sometimes feel that they have no rights or their rights were taken away from them.

“Residents in long term care have just the same rights as they did before they entered the facility,” she said. “The long-term care facilities are supposed to have residents’ rights posted up in the facilities where residents can see them and residents are supposed to receive a copy of their rights when they enter a facility so they will know what their rights are.”

Rhodes said the Residents’ Rights was passed in 1987 under the Nursing Home Reform Law to guarantee long term care facilities residents their individual rights.

“Even though the month of October has been set as the month to celebrate residents’ rights in the long-term care facilities, it is implemented throughout the year in all long-term care facilities,” she said. “Residents Rights is very important and should be demonstrated as such to residents by allowing them to speak up.”

This is where community members can help, through the ASCOG Area Agency on Aging’s “Ombudsman Program.”

Volunteers create a rapport with people living in long-term care facilities.

“Volunteers listen to the resident’s concerns they may experience with staff, family or other agencies associated with their care in the facility,” said Rhodes. “Ombudsmen do informal problem solving and support residents and families in solving their own problems. Your assistance and attention help to ensure that the voices of long-term care residents do not go unheard and demonstrates to residents that they have not been forgotten.”

To learn more about Residents’ Rights or how to be an Ombudsman Volunteer contact Kim Rhodes, Ombudsman Supervisor at ASCOG Area Agency on Aging at 580-736-7974 or call Senior Info. Line 1-800-211-2116 or write to them at P.O. Box 1647 Duncan, OK 73534. Ombudsman Supervisors are available to speak to your group or organization upon request.

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