“Connection Matters” is the theme for October Residents' Rights Month 2020 for long-term care facilities in Minnesota, because connection does matter to all of us, particularly residents of long-term care communities. Connection is an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents. Consumer Voice, a national organization representing residents and families in issues related to long-term care, originally designated October as Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights month is recognized nationally to honor residents receiving long-term care services and supports.
Minnesota’s most vulnerable population was hit first, and hit hardest, by COVID-19. Residents of long-term care facilities, thus far, make up at least half of all COVID-19-related deaths. Residents of long term care facilities and their families have experienced tragic loss from COVID-19. Just as devastating is the mounting collateral damage to residents’ physical and emotional well-being resulting from 7 months of prolonged social isolation.
The Minnesota State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program advocates for more than 120,000 residents living in nearly 8,000 long-term care homes across the state. The program provides independent client advocacy and complaint resolution to ensure quality of care and to voice the concerns of residents whose own voices too often go unheard.
“We as Ombudsmen continue to fight for residents’ rights daily,” says Cheryl Hennen, Minnesota State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. “Residents deserve a strong voice to communicate their rights to quality of care and quality of life. We’ve seen the negative effects of COVID-19 in resident case stories, especially during the pandemic. Residents in long-term care facilities have been suffering due to social isolation and the absence of in-person contact from family and friend caregivers,” says Hennen.
The Minnesota Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care honors Residents’ Rights Month by building relationships with residents, families and staff. It empowers residents by providing education about their rights through program promotion and outreach.
Ombudsmen will soon begin to return to long-term care facilities to connect with residents who have essentially been on “lock down” since the pandemic hit. They have been providing advocacy services virtually to residents since mid-March to do their part in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 spread.
To contact the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, a program of the Minnesota Board on Aging:
• Call 651-431-2555 (metro) or 1-800-657-3591.
• Email MBA.OOLTC@state.mn.us.
The Ombudsman’s office provides free and confidential advocacy services.