LETTER TO THE EDITOR: October is Residents’ Rights Month

To the editor:

October is National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month. This is a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices many long-term care residents have made to better our community and to call attention to their rights in long-term care facilities.

The theme for Residents’ Rights Month 2020 is “Connections Matter,” to emphasize relationships as an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents.

The months of restrictions on visitation in long-term care facilities and the inability of residents, families and friends to be together during the coronavirus pandemic have emphasized the importance of connection, of relationships, and the impact they have on all of our well-being. During this crisis, many creative ways of staying connected were implemented that can be built upon going forward. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued guidance for nursing homes to resume in-person visitation.

Residents’ Rights Month is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate awareness 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.” Residents’ Rights Month is a time to raise awareness of these rights and celebrate residents.

During Residents’ Rights Month, we recognize our local long-term care ombudsman program staff and volunteers, who work daily to promote residents’ rights, assist residents with complaints and provide information about available resources. Louisa County is served by the Jefferson Area Board on Aging (JABA), based in Charlottesville. To contact an ombudsman, call JABA at (434) 817-5241.

As we celebrate Residents’ Rights Month, I encourage community members to connect with those they know who live in long-term care facilities. 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.

Lori Noffsinger

Volunteer, Jefferson Area Board on Aging

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