Oct. 3 through 9 is National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Week, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices that many long-term care residents have made to better our community.
This year's theme -- Defining Dining: It's About Me -- was selected to call attention to the fact that residents should have choices about food and dining, and residents should be part of decision-making in long-term care facilities.
By listening to their voices, residents will be treated with dignity and respect of their full individuality. Staff and residents will enjoy relationships that enhance their day-to-day activities being based on and developed with consumer involvement.
Many people care about residents: family members, citizen advocates, ombudsmen, facility staff. This care can be truly individualized and focused on each person's needs and preferences.
Celebrate and acknowledge these rights through participating in Residents' Rights Week events and calling on your elected officials and local facilities. Show your support by attending or organizing activities.
During Residents' Rights Week, we recognize the 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 of the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging serves 18 counties with 154 licensed facilities. At present, the region 2 ombudsman program has 48 trained ombudsman volunteers.
As director of the Region 2 long-term care ombudsman program, I would like to invite anyone interested in learning more about the ombudsman program or how to become an ombudsman volunteer to call the ombudsman director at 335-3331 or 1-800-392-8771.
I encourage community members to visit someone they know in a long-term care facility and participate in Residents' Rights Week events.
Jan McFerron is the Region 2 ombudsman director at the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging in Cape Girardeau.