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Letter to the Editor: Week marks residential-care rights

Friday, September 24, 2004

To the editor:

Oct. 3-9 is National Long-term Care Residents' Rights Week, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices many long-term care resident have made to better our community. This year's theme, Spotlight on Quality: Focus on Residents' Rights, emphasizes the fundamental rights of all long-term care residents to be treated with dignity and respect and to have a say in decisions affecting their care. Throughout the country, residents, family members, ombudsmen and facility staff members will commemorate the week by holding special events.

We also recognize our local long-term care ombudsman volunteers who work to promote residents' rights, assist with complaints and provide information. The ombudsman program in Southeast Missouri serves 18 counties with 150 long-term care facilities. There are 54 volunteer ombudsmen assigned to these facilities.

I encourage community members to visit someone they know in a long-term care facility, participate in events or inquire about becoming a volunteer ombudsman. Find out how you can help residents exercise their right to vote. 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.

IMOGENE UNGER, Long-term Care Ombudsman director, Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging, Cape Girardeau