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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

August 24, 2011

Thank you to everyone who reached out to us about the East Coast earthquake. The staff of the Consumer Voice are safe and sound and we did not experience any damage at the office. The organization is open for business! We do apologize for the delay in this week’s Gazette due to the challenges we faced yesterday.

Consumer Voice and NASOP Brief Senate Staff at OAA Reauthorization Briefing

Consumer Voice Director of Public Policy Janet Wells and California State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Joe Rodriguez presented statements at an Older Americans Act briefing for Senate staff that was held by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging August 23. Wells presented a statement in support of the Older Americans Act Reauthorization, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and recommendations of the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, of which Rodriguez is president. The briefing concluded when the Senate hearing room and Capitol Hill buildings were evacuated because of the 5.8 earthquake that hit the East Coast Tuesday.

The Consumer Voice's statement reinforced that the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a critical and valuable resource for long-term care consumers in understanding their rights, self-advocating and receiving quality care. The Consumer Voice also believes efforts to strengthen and support the Program through this Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act should be promoted as a means of protecting the frail, vulnerable elders who depend on them. The statement stressed the need for adequate funding to carry out increasing responsibilities in nursing homes and assisted living facilities at a time of state cutbacks; clarification of ombudsmen's right to advocate on public policies that affect residents without interference and to protect the confidentiality of all communications with residents; and eliminating ombudsman and organizational conflicts of interest.

Read the statement online.

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ABA Adopts Policy Proposal on HCBS as Long-Term Care Option

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently adopted a policy proposal encouraging the expansion of home and community-based services as a long-term services and supports option. The proposal was approved as official ABA policy by the ABA House of Delegates as the following:

Policy Proposal 106A August 2011

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges Congress, and all federal, state and territorial administrative bodies to continue efforts to expand the availability of home and community based services (HCBS) as a viable long term option by:

  1. Making HCBS a mandatory service under Medicaid available to anyone who would otherwise qualify for institutional long-term care.
  2. Providing comparable financial eligibility standards and procedures for nursing home care and HCBS.
  3. Permanently mandating Medicaid spousal impoverishment protections for spouses of HCBS enrollees, as already exist for spouses of institutional long-term care.
  4. Allowing Medicaid enrollees to retain sufficient income to pay their reasonable living expenses in the community.
  5. Initiating and expanding other HCBS efforts to help people with disabilities of all ages to live with dignity in the community.”

The ABA hopes this policy will urge continuation of efforts to implement the mandate of the Olmstead decision.

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Emergency Preparedness Resources Available on the NORC Website

As Hurricane Irene, the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2011 season, approaches the Eastern United States, the Consumer Voice and National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) would like to remind consumers, ombudsmen, family members and others of the emergency preparedness resources available on the NORC website.

NORC has an issue page dedicated to emergency preparedness, which features several resources, including checklists developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with input from a variety of stakeholders to help individuals or organizations be better equipped for handling emergency situation, suggestions for an ombudsman home emergency contact list and information kit, insight from various individuals on preparedness and many other useful documents.

Additionally, in 2000, NORC developed a resource paper entitled Ombudsman Role in Nursing Home Closures and Natural Disasters, which includes a tool kit for local ombudsman response and information on transfer trauma. This document is available on our emergency preparedness issue page. This resource has been useful to ombudsmen in responding to September 11, hurricanes and other emergency situations. Also available are two documents from Oklahoma intended to aid in the development of an emergency action plan. These documents are the Oklahoma Facility Emergency Action Plan and the Supplement to the Emergency Action Plan for Long-Term Care Facilities.

Additionally, if you, or someone you know lives in a long-term care facility, be sure to about the facility's emergency management plan.

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October is Residents' Rights Month - New Residents' Rights Community Outreach Kit Available

The Consumer Voice has expanded annual Residents' Rights Week to Residents' Rights Month, which will take place this October, allowing for an entire month to highlight the important topic of residents' rights. The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2011 is, "Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and the Community" with the goal of educating the community about residents' rights and to increase community involvement with residents.

As part of Residents' Rights Month, the Consumer Voice has developed a new product - the Residents' Rights Community Outreach Kit. Each outreach kit (assembled in a Residents' Rights bag) features a items to be used for Residents' Rights advocacy including: postcards with Resident Voice artwork and quotes, buttons, stickers, wristbands and a collection of this year's Residents’ Voice entries promoting residents' rights and this year's theme. These kits are helpful awareness tools and can be used as giveaways for Residents' Rights Month luncheons, press activities, visits with residents and other activities. For more information, including a detailed list of each item, visit the Consumer Voice website. Place your order today; the kits will begin shipping in late August/early September.

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AARP Foundation Seeks Proposals for Grants Program to Address Hunger Among Seniors

The AARP Foundation recently announced a new grantmaking program to fund the development or scaling of innovative solutions to hunger that could have significant impact on community food security and sustainable food systems for older Americans 50+. The AARP Foundation will award grants ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 under the AARP Foundation Sustainable Solutions to Hunger Innovation Grants Program.

For more information, including the Sustainable Solutions to Hunger Grants Program timeline and the Request for Proposals process, visit http://www.aarp.org/hungergrants.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to rlivesay@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care - 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 425 - Washington, DC 20036 - telephone: (202) 332-2275 - fax: (202) 332-2949 - info@theconsumervoice.org