October is National Long-Term Care Residents Rights Month, a better time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of many long-term care 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 -- My Voice, My Vote, My Right -- was selected to call attention to the fact that residents of long-term care facilities have experienced many important historical, political events. It is important that they are given the opportunity to continue to participate in the political process and that voting is made accessible to them.
By listening to residents' voices, we honor their lives and experiences as well as treat them with dignity and respect; staff and residents can enjoy relationships that enhance their day-to-day lives; and the long-term care facility can operate more effectively in its daily activities when based on and developed with consumer involvement.
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 of Southeast Missouri Agency on Aging services 18 counties with 163 different licensed facilities. At present the Region 2 Ombudsman Program has only 47 trained ombudsman volunteers.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ombudsman Program or if you would like to become an ombudsman volunteer, please call the ombudsman director at 335-3331 or 1-800-392-8771.
JAN McFERRON, region 2 ombudsman director, SEMO Area Agency on Aging, Cape Girardeau