long-term care ombudsman program

Blogger Awards for You and Me!

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Thank you “Let’s Talk About Family” fellow-blogger for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  That’s the kind of feedback I like!  More importantly, everyone should check out her Blog because her insights into the ups, and downs, of caring for parents is very insightful and well worth following.

I have been so blessed by the input I receive from the many Blogs that I follow.  I’m going to use this opportunity to make some nominations as well! (I could list many, many more, but to begin with at least, I’ll list just a few that always stand out to me.)  First of all the steps that the nominees need to take to award others who are worthy of singling out:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for an award;
  2. Copy & paste the award logos in your blog, as well as in the sections devoted to your nominations, below;
  3. Be certain to link the person who nominated you for an award; in my case, you’ll see that I’ve linked “Let’s Talk About Family” when I thanked her for nominating me;
  4. Nominate your own choices for awards;
  5. Place links to their Blogsites so that others can view their fine work;
  6. Say a few things about yourself so that others understand a bit more as to where you’re coming from – and where you’re going:
  • My first name is Irene and I live in the Seattle, Washington area.
  • I’m a Baby Boomer who loves to share knowledge about the challenges, and delights, of being in this age group.
  • My working background of the past 20 years includes being a paralegal in law firms as well as for corporations; an Executive Assistant and Office Manager for a senior housing company; a Business Manager in an assisted living/dementia care facility; an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator; and a certified long-term care (LTC) ombudsman for the county in which I live.
  • I became a LTC ombudsman in 2008, thereby leaving the senior housing industry, because in my mind one can never do enough for the vulnerable adults who live in long-term care residential facilities.  In order to assure that vulnerable residents experience a dignified existence and a high quality of life, I had to switch sides and become their advocate.
  • I will always try to write something about which I am familiar and that I have also experienced.  I’m not an expert, but my goal is to always provide input that I hope will prove valuable to others.
  • My mother died in 1994 and from 2004 thru 2007  I was the primary long-distance caregiver for my father who lived in an assisted living community’s dementia care unit.

Now onto the award nominations!

Versatile Blogger Awards:

Day by Day with the Big Terrible A (Alzheimer’s, of course.)  This blog is very reader-friendly.  This blogger is a wife who is taking care of her husband.  Her mini-entries very clearly reflect the struggles she, her husband, and her family face but she also makes room to celebrate the little victories that sometimes are hidden within the caregiving struggle.  I think all of us can find comfort in this woman’s efforts, and her ability to describe those efforts deserve 5 Stars!!!

My Simple C.com.  This blog is an online community that seeks to connect professional caregivers with family caregivers.  The resources and suggestions are quite good and are provided without the intent of selling anything.  Virginia Lynn Rudder works for a company called Simple C, but she clearly has a goal of providing information in an easy to read, comprehensive, and supportive manner.

Elder Advocates.  Lark E. Kirkwood experienced something that no one should ever have to experience.  A guardianship was put in place limiting access to her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and who has subsequently passed on.  Please visit her site because she provides many valuable resources relating to a prevailing problem for vulnerable adults: elder abuse & fraud.

BEAUTIFUL BLOGGER AWARD.

Flickr Comments by FrizzText.  This Blogger really knows how to take a photo and knows how to find them so that we can take a break in our very busy days and simply enjoy his view on our world.  Please make a point of stopping by and you’ll be representing one of the more than 100 countries that partake of his Blog site.

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Retirement communities: the good and the bad.

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In the April 2012 issue of the AARP Bulletin, two articles caught my eye.  The first article, “To be a Bride Again at 100” (attached is the video link) celebrates the marriage of Dana Jackson, 100 years old, to her groom, 87 year old Bill Stauss.  This is a love story between two residents of a nursing home in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  This nursing home celebrated their love, and their death-do-us-part vows, in such a lovely way.  The management and staff of the nursing home exhibited a wonderful sense of community and support of Dana and Bill.  Whether they realized it or not, the staff at the Rosewood Health Care Center helped the newlyweds exercise their rights as long-term care residents.

The second article in the Bulletin’s column, What an Outrage, “Barred from a fine dining restaurant,”  shines a spotlight on a Virginia retirement community that not only did not exhibit a sense of community and support, but they quite literally violated the rights of a husband and wife living there.  When the husband’s care needs required him to switch to the skilled nursing care portion of the retirement community, while his wife remained in the independent living portion of the community, their meals together were abruptly stopped.  The wife could continue to dine in the fine-dining restaurant of the retirement community, but her husband was barred from doing so.  He and the other sixteen nursing care and assisted living residents were required to eat in their own separate dining room.

Harbor’s Edge retirement community had a couple non-fatal choking incidents involving three of its nursing care and assisted living residents in 2011 so a new rule was put in place segregating the more inform from the less infirm, even going so far as to ban the more infirm residents from attending events where food was served.  Keep in mind, residents in this retirement community make a sizable deposit to live there, to the tune of a half million dollars, PLUS a $5000 monthly fee.  I guess money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure should have bought these residents the right to eat where they pleased!

The outcome: the Virginia Department of Health was contacted and soon thereafter, the ban was lifted.  In Washington State, laws are in place to protect the residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities so that these residents can experience a dignified quality of life.  Vulnerable adult residents are guaranteed specific rights by law.  Revised Code of Washington )RCW) 70.129.020 Exercise of Rights, says in a nutshell that a resident has a right to a dignified existence, self-determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility…The resident has a right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination and reprisal from the facility in exercising his or her rights.  The remainder of RCW 70.129 further details all the civil & resident rights afforded vulnerable adults in the State of Washington.  If in your experience you suspect that someone’s long-term care resident rights are being violated, please contact the long-term care ombudsman program in your state by visiting the attached weblink for the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

What great, and not so great, experiences have you had relative to long-term care residential living?  I would love to hear from you so we can celebrate the good, and expose the bad, for all of our benefit.

Avoiding the pitfalls of selecting Senior Housing.

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You’re patting yourself on the back, congratulating yourself for:

  • finally deciding that it’s time to move into Senior Housing; and
  • deciding which type of long-term care (LTC) option suits your needs.

Now what?  You’re scared to death because of the abhorrent negative press you’ve read regarding certain types of Senior Housing.  Good for you – you should be!  There are ways to make your selection a more trustworthy one.  What follows will hopefully weed out the bad eggs, but there is absolutely NO guarantee the decision you make is 100% sure.

WORD OF MOUTH

Chances are that those similar to you in age – your friends, work associates, neighbors – have looked into or are currently looking into Senior housing options and they can be a very worthwhile resource.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to share their experiences with you and you’ll certainly do the same with others as their needs become known to you.  Better yet – if you know of someone who already lives in a LTC facility, visit them to discern what they think about their own choice.

HOUSING SEARCH RESOURCES 

Where will your path take you?
  • Check out your state’s Aging & Disability Services Administration department (linked here is Washington State’s ADSA.)  You really can’t go wrong checking out your State’s services for the Senior population.  These resources usually have links to long-term care facility research tools, such as the Assisted Living section of my local state’s ADSA.  No doubt your State’s Aging & Disability department will have similar links.  If you’re looking for retirement communities that involve totally independent living, or a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), an all-care type of residential model mentioned in my previous blog “Selecting a Senior Housing Community”, your search will be less informational because most States do not license retirement communities.
  • STATE INSPECTION SURVEY.  All licensed facilities in the United States are inspected/surveyed every 12 – 18 months.  This survey is quite thorough and covers absolutely EVERY aspect of a facility’s operations.  When you tour a facility, always ask to look at a copy of that building’s latest State Survey.  By law they must make it available to anyone who asks.  I don’t think I would ever consider a Senior housing option without reading the building’s State Survey.  You’ll find minor or major citations which will be very telling as to how the building is run and how the Administration or Owner of the building responds to such citations.

LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM (LTCOP)

Every state must have a long-term care ombudsman program in place.  These programs are mandated by the Federal Older Americans Act and are intended to improve the quality of life for people who live in long-term care facilities.  A call to the LTCOP intake line in your state is a call worth making.  Let’s say you’ve narrowed down your housing search to a few options.  You ask the LTC Ombudsman’s office about the types of complaints that have been filed against those facilities and this office will provide worthwhile information to help you make your housing decisions.  The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Center  will help you locate your local LTC Ombudsman program.

SENIOR HOUSING LOCATORS

You’ll notice that I’ve placed this type of resource at the bottom of my list.  There are numerous housing “finders” out there and they can certainly be helpful.  You tell them what you’re looking for; what area of town you prefer; what type of care you need; and what you’re willing to pay; and they’ll come up with some options for you.  Please keep in mind, however, that these senior housing finders have an inventory of housing clients that may or may not be representative of all that is out there.  They may come up with some very good options for you but their list will most likely not be an exhaustive one.

Regardless of what/who you use to locate a LTC facility, I hope you’ll go through the previous options I’ve listed above to discern the appropriateness of any facility you’re considering.  Perhaps a Senior Housing Locator has provided what appear to be some great options for you and you’ve even toured them and feel comfortable with what is offered.  Prior to making your final selection, at the very least go through your State’s Long Term Care Ombudsman to discern whether or not any recent actions or citations have been placed against that facility.  And when touring any housing location, be certain to ask for the facility’s latest State Inspection Survey so you can see what the State thinks about that facility.

My father & I on a picnic a year before he died.