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Dear Editor -

October is National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices 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. The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2020 is - "Connections Matter" - to emphasize connections to family, to friends, and to the community - as an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents. The months of restrictions on visitation in long-term care facilities and the inability of residents, families, and friends to be together during the coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the importance of connection, of relationships, and the impact they have had on all of our well-being. During this crisis, many creative ways of staying connected were shared that can be replicated and built upon in all communities.

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. The law also requires nursing homes to "promote and protect the rights of each resident.  Residents' Rights Month is a time to raise awareness of these rights and celebrate residents.

Celebrate and acknowledge these rights by participating in Residents' Rights Month events and calling on your elected officials, community members and local facilities to show their support by attending or organizing activities.

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 serves 50 facilities in seven Southeast Idaho Counties. To contact local Ombudsman: Liz Delaney, Area Agency on Aging, 208-233-4032 x 804.

I encourage community members to have contact with those they know who live in long-term care facilities, participate in Residents' Rights Month events, or inquire about becoming a volunteer long-term care ombudsman. Your assistance and attention help to ensure that the voices of long-term care residents do not go unheard and demonstrate to residents that they have not been forgotten.

Liz Delaney

Area Agency on Aging

214 E. Center St.

Pocatello, ID 83204

208-233-4032 x 804

liz@sicog.org

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