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Ombudsmen defend residents’ rights

GALLIPOLIS — The rights of individuals who receive care at assisted living and nursing facilities was highlighted during Residents’ Rights Week that was observed throughout the nation during October.

Through its Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. (AAA7) advocates for individuals who receive assisted living and nursing home care, in addition to in-home and community-based services in its ten counties which includes Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.

Advocacy surrounding these rights include individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain, and the right to make independent choices.

The AAA7’s Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is responsible for protecting these rights and serving as a voice for residents. “Ombudsman,” a Swedish word which means “representative” or “someone who acts as a trusted intermediary,” is one who essentially “watches over” residents and assures that their rights are respected.

AAA7 Ombudsmen take seriously their role in providing a voice and support for residents who need their assistance.

In the AAA7’s most recent Annual Report, covering the year 2009, volunteer and paid ombudsmen provided a voice for approximately 6,500 individuals, spending over 2,000 hours in direct advocacy services and handling 221 complex complaints requiring extensive research and investigation.

The top five complaints included home transitions, discharges and evictions, symptoms unattended, accidents/falls, and medication administration.

Ombudsmen work with the resident, their family, and the facility to assure that any concerning issue is taken seriously and addressed. The AAA7’s Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program works to establish positive and partnering relationships with assisted and long-term care facilities so that resident rights and concerns are met and sustained.

A huge part of the success of the AAA7’s Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the dedicated staff and volunteers who serve as the advocates and voice for these residents.

The AAA7 is always looking for volunteers who are looking to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Through the AAA7’s Volunteer Ombudsman Program, these special helpers visit nursing home residents on a regular basis to provide them with a link to the outside world. Through these visits, Volunteer Ombudsmen help to lessen the isolation and loneliness many residents experience. Volunteers also provide an essential voice for residents, providing advocacy and assistance for those who have concerns about their care.

“I am proud of the work our Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provides to our 10-county District,” says Kaye Inoshita, RN, Director of the AAA7’s Ombudsman Program. “Through their wonderful service, our staff and volunteers provide a regular presence in our large region for these residents who need an added sense of security and assistance. Knowing we have made a difference in the lives of so many reminds us of the needs these residents have and the support that we can and do provide.”

Those who are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities as a Volunteer Ombudsman, or for more information about the Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program through the AAA7, please contact Cindy Oakes, Volunteer Coordinator, or Kaye Inoshita, toll-free at 1-800-582-7277.

Your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. serves the following counties in Ohio: Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton. Services are rendered on a non-discriminatory basis. The Agency’s Mission is “Assisting individuals to maintain independence and personal choice by providing resource options and services.” Those interested in learning more about the services provided through the Area Agency on Aging District 7, can also call toll-free at 1-800-582-7277.