Letter to the Editor

October is Residents' Rights Month

October is National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions 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 -- Speak Up: Know Your Rights and How to Use Them -- was selected to emphasize the importance of residents being informed about their rights; being engaged partners in achieving quality care and quality of life; and feeling confident in speaking up about what is important to them.

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.

During Residents' Rights Month, we recognize our local long-term care ombudsman program volunteers, who work daily to promote residents' rights and assist residents with complaints. In this area, the ombudsman program at Aging Matters 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 Jan McFerron, Region 2 ombudsman director at 335-3331 or 1-800-392-8771.

As we celebrate Residents' Rights, I encourage community members to visit those they know in a long-term care facility, participate in Residents' Rights Month events or inquire about becoming a volunteer long-term care ombudsman. Your assistance and attention helps to demonstrate to residents that they have not been forgotten.

JAN MCFERRON, Cape Girardeau