To the editor,
Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program joins Governor Rick Scott in celebrating Residents' Rights Month this October. Residents' Rights Month emphasizes the fundamental rights of long-term care facility residents to be treated with dignity and respect, and to have a say in decisions affecting their care. In nursing homes, these special rights range from the right to choose a physician and pharmacy to the right to a 30-day written notice prior to discharge. Residents in assisted living facilities and adult family-care homes have rights that range from unrestricted private communication to reasonable opportunity to exercise and go outdoors at regular intervals.
Residents' Rights Month is a valuable opportunity not only to educate our communities on the specific set of rights given to residents when they enter long-term care facilities, but also to inform Floridians of the services available through the Ombudsman Program and our team of volunteers.
If a long-term care resident ever feels his or her rights are being violated, a volunteer ombudsman can investigate on the resident's behalf and seek a resolution. Anyone may contact the Ombudsman Program to submit a complaint or concern on behalf of a long-term care resident. All program services are free and confidential.
In Florida, there are over 160,000 residents living in long-term care settings. As we celebrate Residents' Rights Month, I encourage you to visit someone you know in a long-term care facility, volunteer in a facility, participate in Residents' Rights Month events, or inquire about becoming a volunteer ombudsman. Your assistance and attention helps to ensure that the voices of long-term care facility residents do not go unheard and demonstrates to residents that they have not been forgotten. Let us take the time to give something back to a generation that has given so much.
Individuals interested in volunteering, learning more about the Ombudsman Program, or learning about scheduled Residents' Rights Month activities throughout Florida may call toll-free 1-888-831-0404 or visit ombudsman.myflorida.com online.
Department of Elder Affairs