Monday, October 29, 2012

Senator Siplin's Social Service Fair

Senator Gary Siplin and Bryan Morgan, Deputy State Ombudsman of
Public Relations and Recruitment
Senator Gary Siplin’s Social Service Fair was held on Saturday, October 20th at Maynard Evans High School in Orlando. The free event, sponsored by Wellcare Health Plans, began with Senator Siplin’s welcome address at 10:00 a.m. with many local community partners in attendance. The Ombudsman Program had a table with various informational materials and was represented by Bryan Morgan, Deputy State Ombudsman of Public Relations and Recruitment, and Robin Baker, West Region Ombudsman Manager. Both interacted with members of the public and provided information on the Program’s purpose and services. The event concluded at 2:00 p.m. 

Ombudsman Program Attends "A Conference On Dementia"

Ombudsmen: Pat Novak and Roma Lecznar
Kevin McKeown, Treasure Coast District Ombudsman Manager, attended A Conference On Dementia presented by the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Association of the Treasure Coast on October 16, 2012 at the Abingdon at Tradition in Port St. Lucie. Kevin had a table set up with Ombudsman Program materials including flyers, residents’ rights booklets, volunteer information, and other giveaways to raise awareness about the Program. Additionally, ombudsmen attending the event assisted with passing out information, networking with other organizations, listening to an expert panel on dementia, and enjoying a 45-minute presentation by Vicki Suplizio, COO of Aloha Home Care and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Association of Indian River County. Ombudsmen in attendance included Robin Rouleau-Brassard, Linda Grand, Sheldon Kanars, Roma Lecznar, Al Malley, Bert Nelson, and Pat Novak.

Table full of informational materials on the Program

Ombudsmen: Bert Nelson, Robin Rouleau-Brassard, and Al Malley

Ombudsmen: Pat Novak, Bert Nelson, Robin Rouleau-Brassard,
Al Malley, and Roma Lecznar

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pasco and North Pinellas District-Wide Resident Council Meeting

Resident & Lynn Penley, District Ombudsman Manager

On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, ombudsmen welcomed 19 residents from 4 nursing homes and 2 assisted living facilities to the Pasco and North Pinellas District-Wide Resident Council meeting. The council celebrated Residents’ Rights Month with the “I Have The Right” chant and residents proudly displayed resident rights flowers and fans. Special guest Doris Graumann, from the office of Representative Richard Corcoran, joined in the celebration and made note of the council issues.

"I won!!" - Residents enjoying the raffle.

The council president shared a letter from the office of Governor Rick Scott stating regret he could not attend the meeting but wants to be informed of future meetings.

Highlights of the discussion included:

          ·   How we celebrate Residents’ Rights Month and show
               tribute to residents and ombudsmen, citizen advocates,
                  facility staff, and family members who work to promote
               and support residents’ rights.
          ·   The “best” thing about life in MY nursing home/assisted 
                O    The way things are run and problems are handled.
O    The food, meeting friends, and the way they take care
      of us.
O    The bingo, beautiful view of the water, the people, 

          ·  What "needs improvement" in MY nursing home/assisted 
                O    Local Medicaid transportation company are hours late
                      to appointments.
                                 O   We have no transportation. We never go out into the
                      community, no walks, no outside events.
O    We have a problem getting the CNAs to answer the
      call lights. They are very busy.      
·   What needs change in Florida.

        O    The cost of living needs to increase.
        O    $35.00 a month is not much money to cover
·   Resident’s Council successes.
O  We have a group meeting every week, rather than once a month. It resolves issues quickly, is more informal, and more people show up to enjoy chatting and sharing.

Resident Participants from:
Madison Pointe Rehabilitation and Health Center (host facility)
The Oaks of Clearwater
Orchard Ridge Care and Rehabilitation Center
Southern Pines Healthcare Center
Summit at New Port Richey
Windsor Woods Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center

Robin Baker, Regional Ombudsman Manager with a resident
Flowers and fans for residents to enjoy.

Ombudsman, Resident Council President, and Lynn Penley.
Special Guest, Doris Graumann, speaking to residents.

Showing off her raffle prize!

Lynn Penley speaking to residents.
Program staff, facility staff, and ombudsmen.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT:
MONDAY, October 1, 2012                            BRYAN MORGAN
                                                                                (850) 510-3920


TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program wishes to make  Floridians aware of the rights bestowed on long-term care residents across the state. Residents of adult family care homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes are given a list of rights upon admission. 

Residents, family members, and other interested parties may contact the Ombudsman Program to make complaints against facilities when they believe a resident’s rights have been violated.  Such concerns include a resident not being treated with respect, lack of choice in daily activities, and more serious accusations such as medication errors and inappropriate discharges.

Ombudsmen volunteers and program staff coordinate with facilities, resident councils, and community organizations to discuss resident rights and why they are important.  “It is absolutely necessary that residents in long-term care settings feel as though they have the same rights as if they were living in their own homes”, says Jim Crochet, Florida’s State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.  “They maintain the right to personal decisions, observing their religious traditions, and the right to vote. It is a matter of dignity and respect all Floridians deserve.” 

If you have further interest in the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, please visit our website for the full list of resident rights, local council meeting dates and locations as well as information to become a volunteer specializing in residents’ rights.  All program services, including individualized response to residents’ concerns are free.  To reach your local office call 1-888-831-0404.   

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lynn Penley, Ombudsman, Speaks To Members

(Original content from The Guardian Angel newsletter)

"Lynn V. Penley, District Ombudsman Manager for the Ombudsman Program, spoke to attendees at the August meeting of the Suncoast Guardian Association. She told of the structure of the organization in Pasco / Pinellas Counties – 20 volunteers and 2 paid staff. The volunteers undergo 20 hours of training before they are sent out to the various assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Lynn Penley, Pasco & North Pinellas District Ombudsman Manager
Besides routine visits to facilities, the office opens about 30 cases per month. Most cases are not serious ones, e.g. staff not answering call bells in a timely fashion or resident having issues with the food. Statewide, there were some 8,363 investigations in the 2008/2009 period. Ms. Penley said guardians could use the Ombudsman office as a resource, also. By calling the local office, the guardian can obtain complaint information/history on a particular facility. Obviously, the guardian can also call a complaint into the Ombudsman office, if he/she can’t seem to have satisfactory resolution with management on an issue pertaining to the Ward.

The Cottages of Port Richey hosted the meeting, with several of their staff attending and introducing themselves. Chef Tony provided a quite elaborate spread, manning two pans of different pasta sauces, cooking each diners choice individually. Many thanks, once again, to the Cottages of Port Richey for their hospitality. They are not only very willing and hospitable hosts, but if several months go by without a guardian meeting there, they phone to see why we’re not calling them!"

Lynn Penley, Ombudsman, Speaks To Members.” The Guardian Angel. Volume 3 Issue 9 (Sept. 2012): 3-4. Print.

Pasco and North Pinellas District-Wide Resident Council Meeting

Villas at Lakeside Oaks assisted with hosting the Pasco and North Pinellas district-wide resident council meeting on July 12. Over 26 residents representing 10 facilities benefited from hearing guest speaker, Nancy Adams of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, discuss voting deadlines, mail-in ballots, and other election topics. Council members approved the previous meeting’s minutes as presented. Attending residents were also able to gain assistance with registering to vote and requesting mail-in ballots.

Ricky Melendez, Resident Council President

Resident Council President, Ricky Melendez, reported on the council's successful aluminum can fundraiser and donations to charities. Mr. Melendez also shared a scrapbook created by residents and encouraged other resident councils to get involved.    
Residents discussed the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Resident’s Voice Challenge topic “My Voice My Vote My Right”. Council members voted to submit their photo and responses to the challenge. Please see The Consumer Voice website for the published article.

Council Member

Residents revisited the suggestion that facility staff coordinate sharing resident transportation in an effort to decrease cost and increase quality of life opportunities. Residents also discussed several issues concerning quality of life, voted to share meeting minutes with local legislators and the Governor, and discussed inviting them to the October meeting. Additionally, residents noted their success with Clearwater Center who has Internet access and a computer for resident use, providing a better quality of life.

Residents raised concerns about the following facility issues:

          ·   Residents who are “screamers” or who scream for no apparent reason causing disruptions. Suggestions included wearing headphones, letting the resident know you are there for them, and involving staff or other residents in helping the resident feel secure.
·   Living with residents who are hard to get along with. Suggestions  included increased activities, talking with staff, and avoiding those residents.
The meeting was adjourned and the council thanked Villas at Lakeside Oaks for hosting. The next meeting will be held on October 10, 2012 at Madison Point Rehab Center in New Port Richey.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thank you Charlotte Poss

Charlotte Poss has been a wonderful ombudsman volunteer, serving on the Withlacoochee Ombudsman Council.  Since 2005, Charlotte has been a certified and active ombudsman volunteer.  Seeing her mother-in-law mistreated in a facility was the spark that compelled her to become an ombudsman. With her professional experience as a paralegal tribal court advocate, it is no surprise at her natural ability to advocate for long-term care facility residents. Given her previous employment, she recognizes the importance of being a voice for those living in long-term care facilities that may not be able to speak up for themselves.

Helen Anderson, Withlacoochee District Manager said, "It is evident that Charlotte loves residents and advocating for their rights. Charlotte has been a pillar of strong advocacy within the Withlacoochee council. Her willingness to volunteer and serve her time for the last five years has contributed to much of the success as a whole of the advocacy efforts here in the Withlacoochee district.” 

“Her commitment to volunteering is a picture of the heart of advocacy; sacrificing her time and agenda to act on behalf of others,” said Anderson.  “Thank you Charlotte!"

Thank you for the spirit of advocacy you showed as an ombudsman and the donated time given to volunteer and protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents living in long-term care facilities.  We wish you luck in your future endeavors and a safe move.  You will be missed!

(L-R) Helen Anderson, Charlotte Poss

(L-R) Marie Brand, Charlotte Poss, and Ginny Winkel

Charlotte Poss

Helen Anderson awarding and thanking Charlotte Poss for her time as a volunteer ombudsman

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pasco and North Pinellas District-Wide Resident Council Meeting

Trinity Regional Rehabilitation hosted a successful district-wide resident council meeting on April 17 in coordination with the Ombudsman Program.  Approximately 20 residents representing 9 facilities benefited from a guest presentation about individualized care plans, approved bylaws, voted on a new council secretary, approved sharing minutes with legislators, chose host facilities for the year, and enjoyed raffle gifts.

Residents discussed their needs for more affordable transportation to events, more responsive staff, and more lifts that certain residents may need to use. 

Residents discussed suggestions for successful facility activities.  These included:
q  Learn sign language or foreign language to communicate with residents who do not speak English or who have lost the ability to speak.
q  Culture days - Residents and staff share personal photos, foods, experiences, and stories from other countries.  Residents can be guest speakers on their experiences living/traveling in other countries to residents, staff, local visiting children, etc.
q  Participating with Volunteer GrandKids program or other school groups with the opportunity for the residents to give to the community and to teach children how to interact with adults and share experiences.
q  Community charity drives
o    Save soda cans for Cancer Society of All Children’s Hospital.
o    “Lazy Dog Days” with dogs coming to visit from local groups with food and raffle profits benefiting the Humane Society. 

Residents from the facilities look forward to the next district-wide resident council meeting.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gayle Mountain awarded the Don Hering "Excellence in Advocacy Award"

Vivid orange sneakers may not be the norm in a nursing home but residents look forward to seeing these shoes; it means Gayle Mountain is there to advocate on their behalf. Gayle has been a certified ombudsman with the Pasco and North Pinellas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council for almost four years and her efforts are being recognized.  This year, she has been selected by her local and state peers to receive the Don Hering “Excellence in Advocacy Award.”  Her dedication is apparent in her smiling face, signature orange shoes, and numerous hours advocating for elders and others who live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult family-care homes that may not otherwise have a voice. Gayle has traveled over 5,301 miles, devoted 815 hours, and investigated 85 complaint cases in the past year, and she’s not slowing down!   Gayle and her fellow volunteers investigate concerns including abuse, lack of dignity and respect, lack of assistance, food issues, and violations of basic rights.
During National Volunteer Week, Gayle Mountain was honored with the Don Hering “Excellence in Advocacy Award”.  There were several special guests in attendance including Liz Hittos, the District Director to Congressman Gus Bilirakis (9th District), Jared Ochs, the Legislative Assistant to State Representative Richard Corcoran (District 45), and State Senator Mike Fasano (District 11).  Liz Hittos and State Senator Fasano both spoke to the group praising Gayle's accomplishment and thanking all the volunteers for their wonderful work.

After the announcement, volunteer appreciation continued.  Each volunteer was presented with gifts from District Manager Lynn Penley, special recognition from Communities for a Lifetime, and special letters from State Representative Richard Corcoran.  State Senator Mike Fasano shook each volunteer's hand and thanked them all for their special work.

Thank you Gayle Mountain and all the Pasco and North Pinellas volunteer ombudsmen, for your work to advocate for the health, safety, welfare, and rights of long-term care facility residents!

(L-R) Carol Weideman, Gayle Mountain, Don Hering

(L-R) State Senator Mike Fasano, Gayle Mountain

(L-R) Liz Hittos, the District Director to Congressman Gus Bilirakis, Gayle Mountain

(L-R) Jared Ochs, the Legislative Assistant to State Representative Richard Corcoran, Liz Hittos, the District Director to Congressman Gus Bilirakis, State Senator Mike Fasano

(L-R) District Manager Lynn Penley, Gayle Mountain

Pasco and North Pinellas Council and special guests

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Introducing the “Ask Mary" column

What do I look for when choosing a long-term care facility? My mother says she doesn’t like the food at the assisted living facility she’s in. Does she have a choice? Where can I go to get help?

Mary Bruels, three year veteran ombudsman volunteer of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program often hears questions like these while conducting facility visits or complaint investigations at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, or adult family-care homes.

"The way society treats its children and elderly is very telling. There’s not a lot I can do to change how we treat the elderly on a global basis but on a one by one basis, I like to think I can make it better. If I make it better for that one person, then I hope someone will do that for me one day," said Bruels.

Bruels is one of the 300 plus volunteers that make up the unique and mostly volunteer run Ombudsman Program. Ombudsmen volunteers are trained and certified to take complaints from or on behalf of residents living in long-term care facilities. Volunteers also educate family, caregivers, residents, facility staff, and consumers about important rights given to residents upon entering a facility. Volunteers from the program’s 17 districts across Florida assist residents with questions about long-term care, resident rights, and what to look for when visiting and choosing a facility.

Choosing a long-term care facility like a nursing home, assisted living facility, or adult family-care home can be a daunting task. Knowing where to get help to navigate the roadways of long-term care can be more than a little confusing and as Baby Boomers and their parents age, the discussion of long-term care is likely to arise.

After retiring as a director of provider relations, responsible for the development and implementation of a statewide (Florida) network of specialty physicians for a workers’ compensation network, Bruels was looking for a way to serve the community. Little did she know she was about to jump into the world of long-term care and become an expert on the subject. It all started when Bruels received a phone call from her sister.

"My sister saw a booth about the Ombudsman Program at a convention and recommended I check it out for volunteer opportunities. Later, I saw an advertisement in the newspaper and decided to call and get more information," said Bruels, "And the rest is history."

Bruels quickly rose into leadership positions within the program, serving as state representative for the Pinellas and Pasco District. As the state representative Bruels assisted in rolling up issues and concerns from the local level to the state level. Currently, Bruels serves as the district chair for the Mid and South Pinellas District. As the district chair, Bruels focuses on leading the council in cooperation with the district manager.

"Mary Bruels is an outstanding ombudsman with a thorough understanding of residents’ rights," said former Mid and South Pinellas District Manager, Natalie Clanzy. "She has the knowledge and experience needed to be a strong advocate for residents. She conducts thorough investigations and follows through to ensure issues are resolved. Her leadership skills have been a great asset to residents, facilities, fellow ombudsmen, and the community."

Bruels understands the importance of partnering with ombudsmen staff as well as other state agencies and stakeholders to reach a common goal of ensuring that long-term care residents’ rights are protected.

"When a resident looks me in the eye and says thank you for your help, you listened to me and I really appreciate it, that’s the greatest reward I get from volunteering," said Bruels. "Working to solve one problem for one resident may have a positive effect on a whole lot of residents. I like working on a global level to solve a local problem."

Considering the work Bruels does, it was no surprise that she agreed to be the lady behind the “Ask an Ombudsman” column. 

“Many people are unfamiliar with the Ombudsman Program and the services it provides to long-term care facility residents.  With long-term care becoming more of a hot topic across the state, I’m excited to see how this column will answer people’s questions and serve the community," said Bruels.

If you would like to submit a question to Mary Bruels about long-term care, please send them via email to titled "Ask Mary."  Look for a response in one of the next issues of the Island Reporter or on this blog.
Mary Bruels, volunteer ombudsman

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Long-term care residents meet and share ideas at the Mid and South Pinellas District Wide Resident Council Meeting

On February 24, the Mid and South Pinellas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council hosted a District Wide Resident Council Meeting at East Bay Rehab and Nursing.  The meeting was well attended with 13 facilities represented by 42 residents, staff and ombudsmen.  We covered topics including a review of residents’ rights, legislative updates, how resident council’s welcome new residents and care plans.  At the next meeting, residents’ voiced their desire to hear more about the upcoming elections and invite local legislators to attend and present to the council.  After the meeting, residents enjoyed socializing with residents from other facilities, raffle prizes, food and cake.  Pictures of the event are posted, below.  Enjoy!