To the Editor:
October is National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month. It’s a time to acknowledge the contributions many residents, their family members and advocates have made to call attention to the rights of people living in long-term care facilities.
The theme this year is “Stand for Quality,” to emphasize the importance of high standards in all aspects of residents’ experience. These include quality care, quality of life, quality services and quality choices —to name a few. We want to encourage residents, family members, facility staff and other advocates to work together to stand for and promote quality.
Residents’ rights month is also an opportunity to focus on raising awareness of the importance of dignity, respect and the rights of each resident. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees residents’ rights and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice and self-determination. The law also requires nursing homes to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.”
During this month we recognize our local long-term care ombudsman program staff and volunteers, who work daily to promote residents’ rights, assist them with complaints and provide information about available resources. Louisa County is served by the Jefferson Area Board on Aging (JABA) based in Charlottesville. JABA uses a network of volunteer ombudsmen who serve in long-term care facilities throughout the region. To contact an ombudsman, call JABA at (434) 817-5241 and they will connect you with the appropriate resource.
As we bring attention to residents’ rights, I encourage community members to visit those they know in a long-term care facility or volunteer in one. Your assistance and attention helps to ensure that the voices of long-term care residents do not go unheard and demonstrates to them that they have not been forgotten.
Resident Advocate/Ombudsman, Jefferson Area Board on Aging