FRANKFORT, KY (Oct. 4, 2004) -- Throughout Kentucky, long-term care residents, family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, facility staff and others will honor the individual rights of long-term care residents by observing Residents’ Rights Week Oct. 3-9.
Kentucky’s observance will focus on the rights and individuality of the nearly 36,000 residents of nursing homes, personal care homes and family care homes across the state. According to the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform which designated Residents’ Rights Week, there are 2.8 million residents of more than 60,000 nursing homes and assisted living and board and care facilities in the U.S.
Special emphasis this year is being given to residents’ right to vote and, specifically, voter registration and accessibility to polling places. Throughout the state, ombudsmen will encourage facility staff to provide residents with current, accurate information about candidates and issues and, if needed, arrange for assistance with voting.
John Sammons, state Long-Term Care Ombudsman with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the observance is a chance to raise public awareness of the fundamental rights of long-term residents.
"Long-Term care residents have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to enjoy the best quality of life possible," Sammons said. "It’s up to the long-term care community and advocates for residents to uphold these rights and to ensure the further rights of self-determination, autonomy and quality care."
The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees nursing home residents these and other rights including individualized care, the right to vote, the right to visitation, the right to privacy and the right to complain.
There are more than 300 volunteers and 27 paid staff serving as advocates for long-term care residents in Kentucky as part of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. This program also provides information on locating a facility, conducts community education sessions and supports residents, their families and the public with one-on-one consultation regarding long-term care.
"During Residents’ Rights Week, we invite all Kentuckians to affirm or re-affirm their commitment to residents’ rights and to honor long-term care residents," Sammons said. "We strongly encourage the community to participate in local events and to visit long-term care residents and let them know they are still important to us, our communities and society as a whole."
Kentucky’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which was initiated in 1978, was expanded in FY 2003 to provide full-time representatives in all of the state’s 15 Area Development Districts.
To learn more about the work of ombudsmen or to volunteer to help improve the lives of nursing home residents, call the office of the state Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at 1-800-372-2991.