September 2023 KY State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program E-Newsletter

September 2023

What’s New?

Prepare for Residents’ Rights Month

October is Residents’ Rights Month

Residents’ Rights Month, celebrated every October, is right around the corner.

This year’s Residents’ Rights Month theme – Amplify Our Voices – emphasizes a community of long-term care residents coming together to make their voices heard. Amplifying your voice means being outspoken about your preferences and choices,and sharing who you are and your experiences. Residents’ voices are the most important at the decision-making table – your story deserves to be told!

Kentucky Residents’ Rights Resources

Nursing Facility Residents’ Rights guide
Nursing Facility Residents’ Rights video
Residents’ Rights in Kentucky’s Personal Care Homes, Assisted Living Communities, and Family Care Homes
Residents’ Rights Month is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate the dignity and rights of every individual receiving long-term services and supports.

The Buffalo Trace LTC Ombudsman Program is planning an event to help residents’ voices be heard. See announcement below.

Check out the voices of Buffalo Trace area residents featured in the video below!

Residents and Voting

A resident’s rights, including the right to vote, must not be impeded in any way by the nursing home and its facility staff. If you live in a long-term care facility make sure that is the home address on your voter registration. If you need help, ask the facility social worker or management. Nursing homes should have a plan to ensure residents can exercise their right to vote, whether in person, by mail, absentee, or other authorized process. Visit the National Consumer Voice website for more information on residents’ right to vote.

People with disabilities create a significant voting bloc with the power to influence policy. There are an estimated 38 million Americans with disabilities who are eligible to vote. Nationally, people with disabilities voted at a 3.6% lower rate than nondisabled voters in the 2022 midterm elections. Additionally, one in seven voters with disabilities reported difficulty voting. Visit Administration on Community Living’s Voting Resources for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

for more information.

The 2023 General election is November 7, 2023. The deadline to register to vote in the 2023 General Election is October 10, 2023 no later than 4:00 p.m. local time.

Kentucky Voter Information Portal

FAQs on voter registration

Mail-In Absentee Voting Eligibility for Absentee Voting Voters are eligible to receive an absentee ballot mailed to the residential address in the county in which they are registered if their completed application is received fourteen (14) days before an election and if the voter is:

Prevented from voting in person at the polls on election day and from casting an excused or no-excuse in-person absentee ballot on all days in-person absentee voting is conducted because he or she will be absent from the county of his or her residence all hours and all days excused, or no-excuse in-person absentee voting is conducted;
A participant in the Secretary of State’s crime victim address confidentiality protection program as authorized by KRS 14.312; or
Not able to appear at the polls on election day or the days excused or no-excuse in-person absentee voting is conducted on the account of age, disability, or illness, and who has not been declared mentally disabled by a court of competent jurisdiction.

CMS Releases Proposed Rule on Nursing Home Minimum Staffing Standard

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the long-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would implement a minimum staffing standard in nursing homes. We have mixed feelings.

We celebrate that the proposed rule would require nursing facilities to have an RN on staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This requirement would be an increase from the current requirement of eight hours per day.

CMS’s proposal is disappointing because

nursing homes would be required to provide only 3 hours of direct care per resident per day. This requirement would include only .55 hours of Registered Nurse (RN) care and 2.45 hours of certified nurse aide (CNA) care. The NPRM failed to propose a minimum for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who play a critical role in nursing home care. Facilities would be eligible for waivers from complying with this minimum if they meet certain criteria. Implementation of the requirement would be phased in over a 3-year period.

Over twenty-years ago an in-depth, evidenced-based CMS study found that each nursing home resident required at least 4.1 hours of direct care each day to avoid compromised care that placed residents at risk of harm. Today, nursing home residents are sicker, as many more functional older individuals choose to remain at home and live independently. Rather than taking steps to ensure all residents receive high quality care, the proposed rule would implement a standard of care well below the 4.1 hours of care and result in an increased risk of harm to nursing home residents.

Despite this dismal proposal, it is critical that we all comment on this rule to make it better. There is ample evidence supporting staffing standards significantly higher than the rule proposed by CMS. CMS, Congress, and other policy makers need to hear our voices to make this proposal better.

Above is a link to The National Consumer Voice’s webinar Unpacking CMS’s Proposed Minimum Staffing Standard. The webinar explains the staffing study conducted last year. Presenters explain this study and how CMS used it to come to the proposed standard in the rule. This webinar is the first step in a series of events that will provide you with the information necessary to comment and make this rule stronger. Comments are due on the Federal Register website by November 6, 2023. Consumer Voice will be providing template comments and more materials to empower you to comment, so check out their website.

New Collaborating for Justice for Older African Americans Guide

All older adults deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Yet, elder abuse remains a pervasive issue, with up to 5 million older adults impacted annually. Every person affected by elder abuse deserves support and services that are welcoming, trusted, and culturally responsive.

African Americans impacted by elder abuse face unique barriers to accessing support and justice. Strategies for providing support to older African American victims must acknowledge the distinctive cultural, social, and historical factors that influence the experiences of the African American community.

The aim of the new Collaborating for Justice guide is to equip multidisciplinary elder
justice partners to build stronger and more equitable collaborations with
African American community-based and culturally-specific programs. Through
these collaborations, older African Americans impacted by elder abuse will have
greater access to effective and culturally responsive services and supports.

Check out the guide announcement on The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) website.

Welcome Sarah!

Sarah Smith is the new Cumberland Valley District LTC Ombudsman. Cumberland Valley serves Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle, and Whitley counties. Prior to accepting the District LTC Ombudsman position Sarah was the Caregiver Coordinator at the Cumberland Valley Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living (CVAAAIL). Sarah was the backup Ombudsman at Cumberland Valley for many years and filled in to provide services anytime the District Ombudsman was on leave. She has worked at CVAAAIL for 15 years. Sarah was previously a PDS supervisor, Caregiver Coordinator, Aging Disability Resource Counselor and SCSEP coordinator. Before working at CVAAAIL she was a substance abuse counselor and rape crisis counselor. Sarah says she loves to make a positive difference in people’s lives and is extremely excited to work as the District LTC Ombudsman.

Volunteer Spotlights

Pennyrile LTC Ombudsman Training in Hopkinsville

Pictured in the front row left to right are Certified Ombudsman Peggy Wayne, District Ombudsman Cindy Tabor, Certified Ombudsman Kathy Pharris, and Friendly Visitor Joyce Kunnecke. Back row Friendly Visitor LaDonna Cates, Ombudsman Advisory Council member Anita Simmons and guest State LTCO Program Regional Ombudsman Mark Burress.

Thank you to the volunteers and staff in the Pennyrile LTC Ombudsman Program.

Thank you to our staff and volunteers.

You make a difference!

Call 859-277-9215

or email us today to learn about volunteer opportunities.

Community Education and Engagement

The Lake Cumberland LTC Ombudsman program hosted A Positive Perspective Workshop on September 21. The event was open to consumers of long-term care and providers and was held at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset. Participants enjoyed an interactive session with Melanie Bunn from Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care and an inspirational speech on Empowerment from Jeremy A. Taylor.

Pictured below is Lake Cumberland District LTC Ombudsman Mandy Weston and Melanie Bunn. Lake Cumberland serves Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne counties.

The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency attended Christ the King’s Senior Ministry Seminar “Addressing Health Concerns” on September 16. Executive Director Denise Wells spoke to the group of approximately 100 seniors about ombudsman services. Attendees learned how to find quality care, how to access ombudsman services, and how to exercise residents’ rights.

If you are hosting a community event, please invite your local ombudsman program. For a full listing of all District LTC Ombudsman Programs and the counties they serve, visit our website.

What’s an Ombudsman?

Ombudsmen advocate for residents of long-term care facilities at no charge to residents or families.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen

Regularly make unannounced visits to long-term care facilities to visit residents.
Protect the special legal rights of residents.
Identify, investigate, and resolve residents’ problems and concerns.
Empower residents to make informed choices.
Work to monitor laws/policies to protect residents.
Long-term care ombudsmen serve residents in all counties in Kentucky. Visit our website!

Learning Opportunities

Mental Health and Aging Conference

The Barren River Mental Health and Aging Coalition is hosting a Mental Health and Aging Conference on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green. For more information visit EventBright.

The Kentucky State LTC Ombudsman Program is housed within the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass.

The KLTCOP is funded in part by state and federal funding provided by the Department for Aging and Independent Living.