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Be involved in the care of a loved one in a long-term care setting


If you have a loved one in a care facility in Oregon, there are some things you can do to be fully engaged in their care, safety and well being.

DHS often provides suggestions to family members and friends who have loved ones living in a licensed nursing home, assisted living, residential care facility or adult foster home.

"There are over 67,000 adults living in approximately 5000 licensed care settings in Oregon," said Donna Keddy, Director of the DHS Office of Licensing and Regulatory Oversight. "While DHS monitors and conducts regular compliance surveys at these facilities as part of our mission, we encourage family members and others to be active partners with us," she said.

"The consistent thing that I always tell people who have someone living in any type of care setting is to visit as often as possible," said Rebecca Fetters, an adult protective services coordinator for the Oregon Department of Human Services. "Always feel free to ask staff questions about your loved one's condition or care at each visit," she said.

Another way residents and families can help ensure well-being and safety is to carefully read and review the community disclosure, agreements and resident rights documents. A full understanding of this information is a first step to assure that everyone is on the same page regarding services and care, community policies and procedures, and all important communication protocols for issues and concerns.

"The manner in which concerns or complaints are received and addressed by a care facility demonstrates an important measure of their commitment to quality care and resident satisfaction," said Linda Kirschbaum, Director of Quality at the Oregon Health Care Association. "If concerns are not brought forth quickly and to the correct individual in the organization, the problem cannot be efficiently and effectively resolved."

There are countless well-managed communities with supportive staff that provide quality care and services in pleasant environments. If there is ever a time you have concerns, report it immediately to the facility administrator or other leadership staff.

In addition, here are some more suggestions from DHS Adult Protective Services to stay on top of issues:

  • Get to know the leadership and staff working at the community. Understand the protocols for reporting concerns and grievances. Be sure you know who to report concerns to. All communities are required to have these procedures in place and communicate them to residents and families. They are also required to follow up on concerns.
  • Report any concerns to the community administrator or director of nursing or health services right away. If this does not work, put your concern in writing via email or letter and request a meeting. If the issue cannot be resolved at the facility level, contact the owner or company.
  • You can also contact the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the Office of Licensing and Regulatory Oversight (OLRO) if you do not get results when reporting problems to the facility. In Oregon, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman may be reached through their website: www.oregon.gov/LTCO or by calling 1-800-522-2602, and DHS OLRO can be reached at 800-282-8096. You can also call DHS Adult Protective Services at 1-866-406-4287.
  • Join or organize a family council. Councils are self-led groups of committed family members who meet regularly in order to work together to improve the quality of life and quality of care for all residents in long-term care facilities. In all aspects of long-term care life, a family council can influence facility decisions to ensure that residents are properly cared for and supported. Families are given a voice in decisions that affect them and their loved ones. Family councils challenge facilities to perform better and help them recognize and address problems before they become too large. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman is often involved with these groups.
  • Nursing facilities, adult foster homes, assisted living and residential care facilities received unannounced, compliance surveys every 12 to 24 months. The interval depends upon the setting and can be more often if there are compliance or compliant issues. These surveys include resident and family interviews. Signs are posted that encourage visitors and family member to talk with the survey team. In addition, DHS has a facility complaint website that can be viewed regularly. It contains substantiated investigations that constitute abuse as determined by corrective action coordinators for licensed long-term care communities in Oregon. This site address is: http://cms.oregon.egov.com/dhs/spwpd/Pages/ltc/licensing/index.aspx

For information on choosing a care facility that best fits the needs of your loved one, there are many excellent resources. On the DHS website there is a section on how to choose a long-term care setting: http://cms.oregon.gov/dhs/spwpd/pages/ltc/ltc_guide/index.aspx.

There are many other excellent resources, including: