October is Residents’ Rights Month, a celebration recognizing the individual rights of residents of long-term care facilities and raising awareness of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law, which guarantees nursing home residents individualized care, respect, dignity, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain, and the right to make independent choices.
To assist in resolving problems affecting the health, safety, and welfare of residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the federal government funds Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs in every state. Lisa Walker, Bay Aging Vice President, Advocacy Resources, leads a team of five certified Long-Term Care Ombudsmen. “We receive, investigate, and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents of local long-term care facilities,” she explained. “We serve the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Hampton Roads.”
Walker and her team recently attended “Strengthening Connections for Resident Protections,” a three-day training program held in Richmond. Sessions included presentations by specialists in geriatric medicine, elder law, and dementia. Participants reviewed regulations, examined case studies, and discussed issues of frequent concern such as involuntary discharge of residents from nursing homes. Bay Aging’s newest ombudsmen, Ann Gause and Lynette Thurston, were introduced during the meeting as newly initiated members of Virginia’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Gause, who joined Bay Aging in May, enthused, “I’m excited to be part of a team that advocates for the rights of residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”
The services provided by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program are free. If you have concerns about the dignity, respect, and rights of a resident of a long-term care facility, call your local Ombudsman program for assistance.
- 804-758-2386: Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula
- 757-220-1577: Hampton, James City, York, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg
- 757-222-4542: Chesapeake, Franklin, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Southampton, Suffolk, Virginia Beach
- Elsewhere in the US, call 800-677-1116 to find your local Ombudsman program
Photo: from left, Bay Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Ann Gause, Lisa Walker, Willie Alston, Lynette Thurston, and Carol Turner with Joani Latimer, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at an ombudsman training in Richmond.