This is in response to the Speakout issue regarding elderly rights in the Friday, September 23, paper. Residents in nursing homes DO have rights mandated by federal and state law. The Ombudsman Program was established by the Older American's Act to be a "voice" for residents in long term care facilities, assuring that resident rights are upheld.The Ombudsman Program seeks to advocate for individual residents as well as inform the public regarding nursing home issues.
Oct. 26, 2005 is National Resident Rights Week. The theme this year is Together We Can Achieve Resident Directed Care. Cooperation is vital as we work toward individual resident care. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is comprised of volunteers that visit residents informing them of their rights and providing assistance to resolve concerns. The Ombudsman Program recruits and trains volunteers; provides consultations/presentations to facility staff and the public; and advocates for residents to receive the individual care and the rights to which they are entitled. While most volunteers become Ombudsmen, visiting residents, there are many volunteer positions available in the program.
For help in resolving and preventing further issues like the one described in the a "Elderly Rights" article, please contact Lois Nelson, Regional Ombudsman Coordinator, SEMO Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-392-8771. Complaints concerning abuse, neglect and financial exploitation should be reported first to the Missouri Division of Senior Services Elder Abuse Hotline, 800-392-0210.