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I don’t know about you, but for me, 2016 has at times felt overwhelming. Listening to the news and looking at the world around us, it can be easy to forget that we, as individuals, truly can make things better. In the midst of what may seem like chaos, even a simple action can have a profound effect.
Not long ago, one of our ombudsmen told me about a family he recently helped. Margaret, a resident at the nursing home he serves, has a serious illness. One Friday, Margaret’s daughter Linda spent the night. In the morning, Linda could tell her mother’s condition had worsened. Margaret was very confused and obviously distressed. She had tremors and her body was “jerking all over.”
Linda went to the nurses’ station to get help. A nurse came and gave Margaret pain medicine and oxygen, but the problems persisted. When Linda continued to ask for help, the nurse became rude and abusive, asking, “What more do you want me to do?”
Linda asked the staff to call an ambulance. But they couldn’t reach the doctor and refused to call an ambulance without the doctor’s approval. Distraught, Linda called the ombudsman and asked him what to do. He told her to call 911 and if she got in trouble for calling, he would take responsibility.
When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, medical staff sent Margaret directly to the Intensive Care Unit. They told her family Margaret had a urinary tract infection, a MRSA infection, and that she was anemic. They pulled back the covers and showed the family sores under her arms, between her legs, and around her neck. Her urine was strawberry red and her blood was septic. The doctors administered antibiotics and gave her three bags of blood. If Linda hadn’t called 911, they said, Margaret might not be alive.
This is one of the more dramatic examples, but it reminded me of the vital role our ombudsmen play in protecting long-term care residents’ well-being. And it also reminded me that even a simple act can have a huge impact. Making a phone call. Answering a question. Making a donation.
It costs about $100 a year to provide ombudsman services for a long-term care resident. By donating what you can—whether it’s $10, $100 or $1,000—you can help make sure residents in the Bluegrass district get the help they need, when they need it. Our program’s success relies on the generosity of compassionate people like you!
Director of Fundraising & Administration
On September 30, 2016, five very special people were awarded the 2016 NHOA Leadership Awards as part of our 35th Anniversary Celebration.
SERVICE TO RESIDENTS AWARD
The NHOA Service to Residents Award honors ombudsmen who have worked directly with and for consumers to improve the lives of long-term care residents. This award honors ombudsmen who have effectively advocated for residents and performed exemplary ombudsman service. Honorees not only serve consumers, but are supportive mentors to other ombudsmen.
2016 Recipients – Ann Evans and Madge Lynn
Ann Evans has been with the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass for nearly 30 years, making her our longest continuously serving ombudsman. Ann has stuck by NHOA’s side through thick and thin, tirelessly advocating for residents in Lawrenceburg and mentoring her fellow ombudsmen. We thank Ann for her commitment to protecting and promoting residents’ rights and for all of the work she has done for NHOA.
Madge Lynn has been an invaluable asset to NHOA from the start of her time with us. Madge has helped guide and mentor new ombudsmen. She is quick to volunteer to help NHOA in anything the agency needs, whether it’s covering an out-of-town facility or helping with our signature fundraiser, Decorator’s Showcase. Thank you, Madge, for your dedication to the residents of the Bluegrass and to NHOA.
This award honors individuals or organizations who advance the financial sustainability of NHOA. Honorees go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that NHOA’s services are funded and our mission to improve care for long-term care residents is achieved.
2016 Recipient – Paula DeBoor
Paula DeBoor joined NHOA’s Board of Directors in 1985 and has played a major role in ensuring NHOA’s financial sustainability ever since. Even before joining the Board, Paula was involved in the Women’s Neighborly Organization’s Decorators’ Showcase. After WNO disbanded and passed the Showcase on to NHOA, Paula helped make it our signature fundraiser. She has chaired many Showcases and other events, working tirelessly to make them memorable and successful, down to the last detail. Paula is masterful at garnering resources and support for our agency, and we can’t thank her enough!
This award honors individuals or organizations who have positively impacted legislation and policy affecting long-term care residents. Honorees have provided exemplary leadership in the public policy field in advancing quality of care and quality of life for residents of long-term care facilities.
2016 Recipient – Nancy Andrews Leonard
Nancy Andrews Leonard retired from Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Department of Social Services after a long career as an Aging Services Specialist. Since retiring from city government Nancy has been performing legislative education and advocacy services as a volunteer for the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency.
Nancy joined the NHOA Board in 1982. She served as Chairman of the board several times and is the Chairman of the Legislation Committee. When you really think about it, few voices are silenced as much as the voices of our sickest, oldest, and frailest citizens tucked away in long-term care facilities. Nancy presents the resident/consumer experience when talking with lawmakers. It is very difficult to keep an eye on legislation related to long-term care services as it touches the judicial, appropriations, veterans’ affairs, and health and welfare committees, as well as state and federal benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Nancy performs an excellent job of gathering information about legislation, bills and sharing that information with residents, consumers, families, and other advocates. Nancy has a deep passion for helping the little man be heard at the capitol.
LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This award honors an individual who has dedicated their career or retirement to advocating for quality care and services for residents of long-term care facilities. Honorees have demonstrated a commitment to advancing long-term care reform while maintaining a personal commitment to integrity.
2016 Recipient – Kathy Gannoe
For more than 25 years Kathy Gannoe worked to improve the quality of care for residents of long-term care facilities as the Executive Director of NHOA & the Bluegrass District Ombudsman from 1984 until her retirement in 2009. Kathy’s knowledge and dedication to ombudsman skills, volunteer work, advocacy training, administrative and fundraising skills, gerontology and public policy were most impressive. These are all evident in the solid foundation and successes of NHOA she was responsible for during her 25-year career at NHOA.
Both locally and nationwide Kathy was known for her continuously well-reasoned, good tempered, and knowledgeable approach to ombudsman work and nonprofit management. Kathy was one of the pioneers of nursing home reform. Kathy has always been regarded as an outstanding national leader, often representing Kentucky in public policy and legislative forums. National nursing home reform activist Elma Holder once spoke these words about Kathy while congratulating her for receiving the Howard Hines award from the National Association of Local Long-Term Care Ombudsmen: “In my travels in other states, I’ve often cited her program and it’s creative, solid activities as a model for others.”
The thousands of consumers Kathy assisted could always count on her to help advance the nursing home reform movement. Kathy developed, piloted, researched and carried out dozens of programs and initiatives to help residents. Kathy’s unique way of explaining Residents’ Rights and the complicated system of long-term care was always so helpful to consumers and continues to shape how NHOA communicates with consumers even today. Kathy truly deserves this tribute for significant life’s work to improve the care and quality of life for people living in long-term care.
Nationwide Celebration Highlights Voting Rights for Long-Term Care Residents
Lexington, KY, October 4, 2016 – Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has declared October Residents’ Rights Month. Gray made the declaration “in celebration of the rights of all citizens who live in long-term care facilities.” Fourth District Councilmember Susan Lamb presented the tribute at the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency’s (NHOA) 35th anniversary celebration on September 30.
“Residents’ Rights Month is an excellent opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to residents’ rights as well as honoring our long-term care residents,” said Sherry Culp, NHOA President and Kentucky’s State Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
“NHOA’s ombudsmen work through October to educate residents about their rights and empower them to exercise those rights,” said Bluegrass District Ombudsman Denise Kennedy. “This year, we are working to make sure that residents are able to participate in the political process, to ensure their voices are heard this fall.”
Ombudsman is a Swedish word for advocate. Long-term care ombudsmen advocate for residents of nursing homes, personal care homes and family care homes. Nearly 2,000 individuals in Lexington and more than 34,000 Kentuckians live in long-term care facilities.
The city of Lexington and the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency join individuals and groups across the country commemorating the month with the “My Vote Matters” theme to emphasize the importance of affirming these rights through facility practices, public policy and resident-centered decision-making.
“We strongly encourage the community to participate in Residents’ Rights Month activities and to visit residents, who continue to be important members of our communities,” said Culp. “We are always looking for volunteers to help us advance residents’ rights.” Volunteer opportunities include Friendly Visiting, Certified Long-Term Care Ombudsman services, Advisory Council membership, and special events. Interested parties can call 1-800-372-2991 for more information.
The full text of Mayor Gray’s proclamation is available at www.ombuddy.org, as is a link to NHOA’s free publication, Know Your Rights: A Guide for Kentucky’s Long-Term Care Residents.
For more information please contact Sherry Culp, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at (859) 277-9215 or email@example.com.
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The mission of The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc. (NHOA) is to improve the quality of care for residents of long-term care facilities.
Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, 3138 Custer Drive, Suite 110, Lexington, KY
Whereas, there are nearly 2,000 individuals in Lexington, and more than 34,000 individuals in the state of Kentucky, living in nursing homes, personal care homes, or family care homes; and
Whereas, the federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 guarantees residents their individual rights in order to promote and maintain their dignity and autonomy; and
Whereas, all residents should be aware of their rights so they may be empowered to live with dignity and self-determination; and
Whereas, we wish to honor and celebrate these citizens, to recognize their rich individuality, and to reaffirm their right to vote and participate politically, including the right to have a say in their care; and
Whereas, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass have partnered for more than three decades to improve the quality of care and quality of life for residents living in long-term care facilities;
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Each year, an estimated 5 million older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited. In addition, elders throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, funds that could have been used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and medical care. Unfortunately, no one is immune to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It occurs in every demographic, and can happen to anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. Yet it is estimated that only about one in five of those crimes are ever discovered.
Elder abuse is often a silent crime. Most of us never see it because most victims are abused behind closed doors by their own family members. And, too often, people who do see it choose not to get involved because it’s “none of my business.”
The law says it’s our business. Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state. (Reference KRS 209.030)
If you suspect elder abuse, you are legally required to report it. You can report abuse at the 24 hour toll free hotline 1-800-752-6200, calls can be made anonymously.
In addition to contacting Adult Protective Services, if you suspect a resident of a long-term care facility is being abused, neglected or exploited, contact your District Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency at (859) 277-9215 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our job is to advocate for residents and make sure they get the care they deserve!
To learn more about elder abuse and what you can do to help prevent it, visit the following sites:
- Elder Abuse Awareness, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
- Adult Protection Branch, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
- 20 Ways You Can Help Prevent Elder Abuse, Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services
- Bluegrass Elder Abuse Prevention Council
- National Center on Elder Abuse, U.S. Administration on Aging
- Elder Abuse, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care
And don’t miss the Third Annual Bluegrass Elder Abuse Prevention Conference, July 8, 2016. Registration is free and lunch is provided!
Sixty percent of nursing home residents have no visitors–no family or friends to check on them or cheer them up. Research shows that long-term care residents receive better care when they have regular outside visitors.
With just a few minutes each week, YOU could change a resident’s life, and help improve the quality of care they receive.
Learn more at our Friendly Visitor Orientation
Friday, February 19, 3:00-4:30 pm
3138 Custer Drive, Suite 110
Lexington, KY 40517
Please RSVP to Denise Kennedy at email@example.com or (859) 277-9215
Become a Friendly Visitor today!
NHOA Board member and Legislative Committee Chairperson, Nancy Leonard, provided testimony to the Senate Committee yesterday in an effort to explain why medical review panels are not in the best interest of residents (report on medical malpractice). In the end, Senate Bill 6 does not address poor care and does not improve care for our vulnerable residents. The bill was later heard on the Senate floor.
What can you do?
The bill will probably have another reading on the Senate floor and be up for final passage by the Senate. Now is the time to contact your Senator and House Representative. The bill could soon be in the House Health and Welfare Committee if it passes the full Senate. Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee are listed below. Let your voice be heard!
Contact your Kentucky Legislator by email or leave a message at 1-800-372-7181.
House Health And Welfare Committee Members
Rep. Tom Burch [Chair]
Rep. Robert Benvenuti III [Vice Chair]
Rep. David Watkins [Vice Chair]
Rep. Addia Wuchner [Vice Chair]
Rep. George Brown Jr.
Rep. Bob M. DeWeese
Rep. Joni L. Jenkins
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian
Rep. Reginald Meeks
Rep. Phil Moffett
Rep. Tim Moore
Rep. Darryl T. Owens
Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo
Rep. Russell Webber
Rep. Susan Westrom