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Hello All,

Happy October! I hope everyone is well, and I appreciate you taking the time to read about the exciting things going on this month. If you don’t know, October is Residents’ Rights Month, an annual event developed by the Nation Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. It is a month-long celebration to honor those living in long-term care facilities as well as older adults who receive services in their home or community.

While we fight for the rights of all older adults daily, this is a time when we raise our voices even louder for those that we serve, not just locally, but across the nation. This year’s theme is Connections Matter. If you’ve been following along with us, you know that we’ve been talking A LOT about the importance of connection. We’ve launched our Friendly Visiting and Telephone Reassurance Program in Solano County, and we just wrapped up our COVID Connections campaign – two of our most recent initiatives during the pandemic. Engagement with family, friends, and community members is vital for good health and quality of life. The months of visitation restrictions have pushed lonely and isolated seniors even further from the support systems they need to thrive. This month my team and I are challenging you to get involved whether you communicate with seniors virtually, donate, share information on social media, or are able to safely volunteer your time in person, help us promote independence, and inform older adults and our communities about the rights all seniors have to advocate and stay involved.

I hope you read on for more about Residents’ Rights Month, ideas for staying connected, resources, news, and more.

Nicole Howell
Executive Director

Connections Matter – Fighting for Residents’ Rights

These past several months have been a challenge for us all, but they have been incredibly difficult for our senior populations. With older adults being more vulnerable to COVID-19, visitation restrictions have made it hard for seniors to connect, engage, and thrive – cut off from activities, necessary services and resources, and not being able to see friends and family.
In California, with updated guidelines and safety measures in place, we are happy to have resumed safe in-person visits, which has been a relief, yet sad for many residents. They are still unable to see and hug their loved ones.

“I am profoundly touched by the joy reflected in the resident’s faces when they first see the ombudsman. The joy swiftly changes to deep sadness because they haven’t seen or held their loved ones in such a very long time. A resident wondered out loud if she would ever hug her grandson again before she dies. It broke my heart.”
-Debra Hanschar,
Lead Regional Supervisor – Contra Costa

Faced with such challenges, senior advocacy has never been more critical. Older adults must express their needs and get involved with what’s happening in their facilities to communicate on behalf of themselves and fellow residents. More than likely, other older adults may have similar needs or will be empowered to speak up too.

Ombudsman can make sure residents know their rights, care issues, and updates about how policy and legislation impact them. Whether you are able to visit a facility in-person or not, advocates should be continuing to check in to ensure facilities are providing access to Wi-Fi and necessary technology to stay in touch with family, local ombudsman programs, and other online resources. It is also essential to make sure that facilities are maintained routine care needs and activities. Most importantly, we need to make sure that residents and staff alike know that we are here for them to listen for care and rights violations and stepping in to help older adults and their families connect with resources and find solutions to their needs.

Are You an Advocate? 5 Reason Why You Should Get Involved in Residents’ Right Month TODAY!

1. Empower residents to take action by educating them on their rights.
2. Educate families, friends, staff, and community members on what residents’ rights are.
3. Call for community involvement in long-term care.
4. Build new relationships or reignite connections with residents, family, and care staff.
5. Local ombudsman program updates and community resource offering.

For other community members, individuals, and families, you could be calling to check in on senior and staff needs at your local facilities. You can send care packages, become pen pals, schedule window visits, or even set up a car parade. You can also help educate residents on their rights and call on facilities to boost staff numbers and increase one-on-one time with residents.

No matter where you are or how you decide to get involved, know that any engagement, big or small, is making a positive impact, and helping enhance the lives of our seniors.

Congratulations to our Executive Director!

All of us at Ombudsman Services would like to congratulate our Executive Director, Nicole Howell, on her nomination for Congressman Garamendi’s 2020 Woman of the Year Award. This award recognizes outstanding women serving in California’s Third Congressional District for their leadership and dedication to public service. Congratulations to all nominees and an exceptional group of women!

Thank You John Muir Health!

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our community and partners who have stepped up to support our team and the vulnerable older adults across our region. We want to thank the John Muir Health Community Support Committee for their $10,000 grant to purchase tablets, hot spots, and other necessary technology for Vallejo seniors – in Southern Solano County. Thank you for your generosity!

Bilingual Resources
Did you know it’s Hispanic Heritage Month? We are proud to share the following resources from the National Council on Aging to help empower older Latino individuals to improve their health and economic security.
Modeled on NCOA’s respected BenefitsCheckUp®, this free and confidential tool connects Spanish-speaking older adults to billions of dollars in federal, state, local, and private benefits to pay for daily expenses such as food, medicine, utilities, and more.

Chequeo Contra Caidas
This screening tool allows older adults to assess their risk of falling—one of the greatest health risks as people age. Users receive a personalized report with culturally competent Spanish falls prevention resources, including a video, tips, and handouts.

COVID-19 Recursos
When the pandemic started, we quickly developed trusted information and videos to spread the word about how to stay safe.

Scammers prey on older adults. Our tips show how to spot bad actors.