October is Residents’ Rights Month, a time to educate, raise awareness, and Stand for Quality service and care. Advocating for and protecting seniors is a charge that all of us at the department take seriously, but long-term care ombudsmen are the boots on the ground to make sure that residents in long-term care settings are being heard and that their rights are protected. We must remember that while long-term care residents may no longer be able to care for themselves as independently as they once could due to age or disability, they are not helpless. The support from an ombudsman empowers residents to feel more secure and comfortable in advocating for themselves.
And let’s not forget about our PEER ombudsmen who live in long-term care settings and demonstrate their commitment to advancing the living conditions of their own long-term care facility. These long-term care residents complete and graduate from ombudsmen empowerment training so that they can improve the quality of day-to-day life for both themselves and their fellow residents.
A resident’s long-term care experience should include quality in all aspects—care, life, services, and choices, and long-term living facilities should participate in and use Residents’ Rights Month to help further educate their staff on what the residents’ rights actually are. They include, but are not limited to, the right to:
- be fully informed
- participate in their own care
- privacy and confidentiality
- dignity, respect, and freedom
- make independent choices
- safe transfer or discharge
Residents’ Rights Month provides an opportunity to build relationships between staff, residents, and their families, promote community involvement, increase community awareness, and to highlight a facility’s dedication to promoting residents’ rights and person-centered care.
Ombudsmen play a crucial role in the experience of long-term care residents, and they will tell you the work is extremely rewarding. This program can give families and friends peace of mind knowing that their family member or loved one is being given the opportunity to voice concerns or ideas, and they are being elevated or addressed as needed. We are always looking to grow our ombudsmen volunteer network to ensure the voices of long-term care residents are being heard. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer and getting involved in this extremely gratifying work or know someone who may be, please fill out the
Aging Service Volunteer Form
Secretary of Aging