Across the state, Oregonians living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities had what State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Fred Steele hopes will be considered a very successful Residents’ Rights Month, recognized each October.
This month has seen considerable strides taken by Oregon leadership and partners towards enhancing the respect and dignity that should be afforded every Oregonian living in long-term care, said a press release, specifically in numerous pieces of legislation passed in the 2017 Oregon Legislature.
With the Department of Human Services overseeing the implementation of the 2017 legislation, Oregon’s partners in services for care facility residents began meeting in the month of October to implement HB 3262, which addresses the overuse of psychotropic medications in care facilities, HB 2661, which establishes a first-in-the-nation registration and monitoring of senior referral agencies, and HB 3359, the comprehensive long-term care legislation that mandates more comprehensive dementia training for facility staff, establishes a quality care advisory group, establishes a new medication dispensing process to reduce medication errors, and modernizes the civil penalties for facilities that neglect or harm residents.
Looking ahead to 2018, leadership began discussions to establish a structure for licensing administrators in the over 520 licensed residential care and assisted living facilities throughout Oregon by July 2019.
Even with this legislation promising an improved future in care facilities, volunteers continue to be needed to become Certified Long-Term Care Ombudsmen. More than 180 volunteers and 12 paid staff are advocates for residents throughout Oregon. There are approximately 44,000 residents living in licensed long-term care facilities in Oregon. However, only 54 percent of the residents have the benefit of a Certified Ombudsman Volunteer assigned to their facility.
“This is an exciting time for protecting the rights of Oregonians living in care facilities. Volunteer Certified Ombudsman protect the rights of residents daily throughout the state, and then their volunteer work also informs the changes needed in Salem and statewide to ensure Oregon has a strong long-term care system for some of our most vulnerable,” said Steele.
Call 1-800-522-2602 or visit www.oregon.gov/LTCO for more information on becoming a Certified Ombudsman, or to report a concern about a facility.