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Dear Editor:

October is National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices many long-term care (LTC) residents have made to better our community and to call attention to the rights of residents in long-term care facilities. This year's theme – Stand for Quality, was selected to emphasize the importance of standing for quality in all aspects of residents’ experiences – quality care, quality of life, quality services, and quality choices.

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.

Celebrate and acknowledge these rights by participating in Residents’ Rights Month events and calling on your elected officials, community members and local facilities to show their support by attending or organizing activities.

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 to those who need to find a long-term care facility. In this area, the ombudsman program at Aging Matters in Cape Girardeau serves 18 COUNTIES AND 164 LONG TERM CARE COMMUNITIES. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM OR ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING A VOLUNTEER, CONTACT EMILY SMITH, REGION 2 OMBUDSMAN DIRECTOR OR ERIN MASON ASSISTANT OMBUDSMAN DIRECTOR AT 573-335-3331 OR 1-800-392-8771.

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As we celebrate Residents’ Rights, I encourage community members to visit those they know in a long-term care facility, volunteer in a facility, participate in Residents’ Rights Month events or inquire about becoming a volunteer long-term care ombudsman. Your assistance and attention helps to ensure that the voices of long-term care residents do not go unheard and demonstrates to residents that they have not been forgotten.

Sincerely,

Emily Smith

Region 2 Ombudsman Director

Aging Matters

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