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MAS CEO Susan Kohler

Protecting Residents' Rights

Caregiver adult daughter visits with her mother

Maybe you’ve heard of the Ombudsman program, but you’re wondering what exactly they do, or more importantly, how can they help me? Regardless of age, if you or someone you know lives in long-term care, the answer is yes! We can help!

We’re here for you.

Ombudsmen advocate for people living in long-term care, as well as people who are receiving temporary care which requires a short-term stay. For example, maybe you are a person who has lived in a nursing home for many years, or perhaps you are someone who was discharged from the hospital after a broken hip and just need short-term care for rehabilitation before going back home. Either way, Ombudsmen are authorized through the Older Americans Act to be an advocate for you.

Ombudsmen are not affiliated with long-term care facilities. The Ombudsman program is provided through Missoula Aging Services, in our mission to support the independence, dignity, and health of older adults and those who care for them.
Residents living in long-term care are the cornerstone of the Ombudsman program, and we are committed to protecting their Residents’ Rights. We welcome referrals, which remain confidential. Once a referral is received, our investigation begins with the resident. The resident is our client, regardless of the source of the complaint. The resident’s dignity and self-determination are our highest priority. Ombudsmen honor the resident’s wishes over any other individual or organization.

Why are Residents’ Rights so important? People living in long-term care retain their civil rights, and residents are granted additional rights called Residents’ Rights which are protected by law. Long-term care facilities must actively promote and protect all these rights. Residents’ Rights have a significant impact! When residents are fully informed, treated with dignity and respect, given the right to make their own choices and communicate freely with people inside and outside of the facility, it greatly enhances their quality of life and quality of care. Residents’ Rights were created by Congress in recognition of the perception of the power imbalance between residents and staff, and the tendency for long-term care facilities to operate as an impersonal system which requires the residents to fit in.

Residents’ Rights empower residents and recognize their right to choose aspects of their life that are important to them. For more information, call Missoula Aging Services at (406)728-7682.