HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) through its State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is highlighting the contributions that many long-term care residents, family members, ombudsmen, and facility staff have made to better our commonwealth and is calling attention to the rights of residents in long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen, in partnership with the commonwealth's 52 Area Agencies on Aging, advocate for and protect the rights of older adults receiving long-term care services. Specifically, ombudsmen receive confidential complaints from individuals living in a long-term care facility, and then work to investigate and resolve those issues.
Through the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program over 600 ombudsmen and volunteers have been trained to address issues, respond to complaints, and advocate for residents' rights. In addition, the Program has also trained over 2,200 long-term care residents as part of the Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents (PEERs) program which ensures that they are empowered to advocate for themselves and their fellow residents.
"With more than 80,000 Pennsylvanians residing in approximately 700 nursing homes throughout the commonwealth, it's imperative that we listen to residents' voices, honor their lives and experiences, and treat them with dignity and respect," said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. "As we strive to improve access to all aging services, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is perfectly positioned to strengthen and complement state survey processes, promote polices and consumer protections at the local, state and federal levels, and empower long-term care residents."
To demonstrate this commitment, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program will host a Resident Council Skill-Building webinar, which is intended to inform and guide long-term care residents and ombudsmen on how to either start a resident council or enhance an existing council to be more resident directed. The webinar will also serve as a vehicle for participants to share ideas, express concerns and ask questions. All long-term care facilities and their resident councils will be invited and are encouraged to participate.
The webinar release is timely as the department observes October 2016 as National Residents' Rights Month, an annual event that focuses on and celebrates awareness of the dignity, respect and value of each individual long-term care resident. "By engaging long-term care residents, listening to their concerns and responding to their questions, positive relationships with staff are built, and the facility can operate more effectively when its daily routine is based on and developed with resident involvement." said Osborne. "I encourage everyone to visit those they know in a long-term care facility, participate in your local Residents' Rights Month events, and inquire about becoming a volunteer long-term care ombudsman."
For more information on the Department of Aging's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, visit aging.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Drew Wilburne, 717-705-3702
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Aging