Friday, November 18, 2011

District-Wide Resident Council Meeting

Pasco and North Pinellas District ombudsmen volunteers and staff welcomed 25 residents from 12 different long-term care facilities on October 25th, during this year's Residents' Rights Month.  The theme of the meeting was “Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and the Community.”  The group shared their favorite community events growing up, current participation in their community and new ideas for increasing community interaction.  

Top suggestions from long-term care facility residents were:
·         Attending/participating in parades.
·         Dog shows where the residents are the judges.
·         Ask local legislators to speak and listen to residents.
·         Collect food/clothes for needy families.
·         Share life experiences with others such as scout troops/local school children.
·         Spelling bee with local school children.
·         Open house to invite family, friends and the community.
·         Connect with local schools to invite them to facility activities and events and have the school invite residents to their events such as plays, concerts and sports games. 
·         Adopt needy families and/or fund raise to sponsor a thanksgiving meal or have a holiday gift drive. 
·    Adopt a soldier for the year/holidays and collect holiday/thank you cards for them.

The resident council also elected officers to lead their activities: Vice President: Richard Whitney, Secretary: Diana Payne, and President: Ricky Melendez.

Here are some pictures of residents, ombudsmen volunteers and caregivers from the meeting:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October is Residents' Rights Month

October is nationally recognized as Residents’ Rights Month, an initiative of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.  This year’s theme is “Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and the Community.”

When an individual moves into a long-term care facility like a nursing home, assisted living facility or adult family-care home, he or she gains a special set of rights in addition to those they maintain as a United States citizen.  These rights range from the right to choose a physician and pharmacy to unrestricted private communication and reasonable opportunity to exercise and go outdoors at regular intervals.  

Several of the 17 Florida Ombudsman Program districts hosted or participated in special events for Residents’ Rights Month, meeting with long-term care residents, families, facility staff, agency partners and community officials.  The 17 plus volunteers in the Withlacoochee district hosted a Resident Council Summit.  28 residents from 10 different long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, attended along with several facility staff members.

“We had an interactive discussion with residents and caregivers,” said Withlacoochee District Manager, Helen Anderson.  “We stressed the importance of residents maintaining the right of being a part of the outside community, where they live.”  

Residents spoke about recognizing the reciprocal relationship they share with caregivers.  Research shows supportive relationships are critical to well-being.  Residents also shared what their favorite right was.  Many residents expressed that their favorite right as a resident, was maintaining the ability to make their own decisions and choices, like picking what time to get up in the morning or choosing to enter or leave the facility when they wanted.  Other residents expressed having the freedom to practice their individual religious preference, as their favorite right. 

Check out the pictures from the Resident Council Summit, below!


On the other side of the state, Treasure Coast District Manager, Kevin McKeown, and local volunteer ombudsmen met with city officials to read Governor Rick Scott’s proclamation of October as Residents’ Rights Month for Florida.  There were two readings of the proclamation, one in Indian River County and the other in Martin County.  Members of the public and county commissioners were in attendance.
“I was honored to be given this opportunity to speak about Residents’ Rights Month and share information about our program and the diligent work our volunteers do to protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of long-term care facility residents,” said McKeown. 

Events hosted by several other districts across Florida included the Panhandle District Chair, Linda Putnam, speaking to residents at the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center on resident rights, a Resident Council Chair meeting in Volusia and Flagler counties and a District-wide Resident Council meeting in Gainesville and Tarpon Springs.

“Residents’ Rights Month is a way we can respect and commemorate a population that has given us so much,” said State Ombudsman, Jim Crochet.  “It also gives us an opportunity to educate the community on the Ombudsman Program’s mission, making sure these rights of long-term care facility residents are protected."

Honoring rights of long-term care residents should not be limited to just one month of the year.  As the holidays approach, think about visiting someone in an assisted living facility or nursing home.  Often times, a volunteer ombudsman is the only visitor a resident in a long-term care facility will see.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Volunteer ombudsman saves a resident's life

Volunteer ombudsman, Ruth Battle-Hall, displayed true advocacy when she determined a resident was given their medication despite their low blood pressure and low heart rate readings. 

With Ruth's 40 years of nursing experience, she notified the facility’s director of nursing and recommended the resident’s doctor be called immediately.  The resident was taken to the hospital, where doctors determined there was a blockage in the resident's heart.  The resident stayed in the hospital for about 4 weeks.  When Ruth followed up with the resident, the resident stated, “Ms. Hall you saved my life!”

The resident and family are grateful to Ruth's work and the Ombudsman Program. 

Thank you Ruth Battle-Hall and all the volunteer ombudsmen!

Volunteer ombudsman Ruth Battle-Hall

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Local Ombudsmen Step in to Help Residents of Palazzo Di Oro

Within minutes of receiving a call regarding the possible closure of Palazza Di Oro, an assisted living facility in Pinellas County, Natalie Clanzy, the District Ombudsman Manager, stepped into overtime to work on behalf of residents.  Local ombudsmen volunteers rallied around Natalie to ensure residents were well educated about their moving options.  “We wanted to make sure residents were given a choice about which assisted living facility to move to and ensure that their personal belongings go with them to their new place,” stated Natalie. 

Ombudsmen volunteers and staff worked in concert with Palazza Di Oro administrator and the Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA) to invite local assisted living facilities to a coordinated function at Palazza Di Oro.  Over 50 facilities were in attendance, displaying their services and amenities to residents.  “I was impressed with the way the ombudsmen volunteers assisted with the event and the number of assisted living facilities that participated,” stated Regional Ombudsman Manager, Diane Carpenter, “This may be a difficult transition for many residents.  With such a diligent group of ombudsmen volunteers and staff, I know they will continue to assist residents in making the move as smoothly as possible.”

If you or someone you know lives in a long-term care facility and needs help, call the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Toll-Free today at 1-888-831-0404 or visit  All services are confidential and free of charge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cyndi Floyd shares her legislative visit experience at Senator Dennis Jones’ office.

Marlys and I went and visited Senator Dennis’ Jones office the other day and it was a very positive experience.  I had never done one of these visits and was not looking forward to it, just one of those "I've never done this before" nervous challenges.  We had an appointment with his assistant, Doris Burns, because the senator was out of town.

Mrs. Burns was very welcoming and was aware of the Ombudsman Program.  She had lots of good questions and took notes. She already had a good impression of the program, but was surprised at how much we do. She gave us plenty of time and I felt that I was able to give her quite a bit of positive input about the importance of the program.  One of the points I stressed was that we are the voice for the resident, a role not filled by any other agency.  I also discussed the importance of the program’s autonomy.  I felt that I was heard and that she would pass on my points.  I left her with a copy of our 2009-2010 Annual Report.

Having visited a legislator's office for the first time and finding that it was a privilege and a pleasure will make it much easier to make my next visit with my Representative, Larry Ahern. I hope that the other council members will see their legislators, too, and give a positive and professional face to the program.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ann Proie, Southwest Florida District Ombudsman Manager, recognizes Steve Fescella for his recruitment and advocating efforts.

Steve served as chair of the Recruitment and Retention committee and has shown exceptional leadership in this role.  He researched various organizations for possible volunteers and made it possible for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program’s volunteer needs to be posted in the Senior Blue Book.  He works tirelessly to recruit volunteers for the Collier County area by speaking at and attending local senior events.

His actions speak of his dedication to recruit more volunteers for the program.  He also displays a strong ability at making a new trainee feel confident and comfortable in their role as a volunteer.  Thank you Steve, for your volunteer outreach efforts, volunteer mentorship, and tireless pursuit of justice for long-term care residents.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mike Phillips, Northwest Florida District Ombudsman Manager, shares dedication of three outstanding volunteers and nominates them for the Shining Star recognition.

The Northwest Florida Long-Term Ombudsman Council’s jurisdiction spans 100 miles east to west and is currently serviced by three active ombudsmen who will go anywhere at any time to alleviate and resolve the concerns of residents in long-term care facilities.  Never have I experienced a group of volunteers with such a passion and dedication for the elderly.  And, how can I praise one and not all three when each draws his strength and commitment from the shared values and mission of the Council to which they have pledged themselves?
Anne Manning currently serves the Council as its Chair, a function she has performed many times in her 12-year tenure.  Even with the personal hardships she is experiencing, she refuses to give up and continues to provide the Council with her wisdom and grace and residents with her tenacious (but always disarmingly friendly) determination to resolve and correct facility practices that impinge on their rights.  She is the epitome of self-giving.
Jim Evans, in his nearly 11 years of service, has always been a pillar of strength and wisdom for the Northwest Council.  His huge heart has a permanent place in it reserved for the elderly.  In spite of the oil spill that wreaked havoc on his business ventures in the area last year, Jim still found time to reach out and help the elderly – lending his voice, his clear reasoning, his extensive knowledge, and his passionate persuasion to their cause.  He is the quintessential humble servant.
Ray Sykes has served on the Council for nearly four years and in addition to fulfilling his responsibilities as a representative on the State Council, Ray completed over 1/3 of the Council’s assessments in 2010 and was asking if there was more he could do to help out because of our shortage of ombudsmen.  Intelligent, soft-spoken and filled with compassion, Ray meticulously investigates the residents’ complaints as if they were his own and doesn’t quit until a suitable resolution is found.  Couldn’t find a gentler and caring man than Ray.
Without a doubt because of the effort and dedication of these three volunteers, long-term care residents in Northwest Florida are getting their voices heard.