Tue, Sep 18, 2018
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Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
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(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577

Sheaffer: Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

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So you've decided you don't want to remain at home alone any longer. Maybe you've had some health issues and safety has become a more important issue than in the past. Maybe you've thought about hiring an in-home care worker to help out, but realize that the majority of the day--and night--you might still be alone.

Maybe you're just tired of not being around other people and want to live somewhere that has socialization opportunities, plus help when/if needed.

I've talked a lot about Adult Family Homes (AFH) and Assisted Living facilities (AL) in this space, and I won't dig into their details again right now. The advice given time after time still is valid: Look before you leap. Even if you're just thinking about moving into one or the other, check them out, talk to residents and staff, ask around.

Once you've moved, remember at least two things: Your decision isn't a once in a lifetime decision that once made can't be changed; and, you will not be alone--and I'm not just talking about the other residents.

Trained staff are available and can make you feel at home, answer questions and provide support. Sometimes you might feel some anxiety after you're living there. Questions come to mind, and you may not be sure where to go for answers--or just to share concerns.

Just a couple questions I've heard:

  1. If everyone else is doing everything for me, what do I do? Will I get lost in the shuffle?
  2. If I ask too many questions, will I get in trouble?
  3. What if some of the questions I have are about the place or the staff? I plan on continuing to live here, you know.

As noted above, the staff would be a great place to start and they will be working with you to remain as independent as you can--and if you need assistance, it's there. Other residents also can fill you in regarding how things work.

For questions 2 and 3, let me introduce to you your advocate: The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCO). These people are trained to answer questions, work alongside you with any concerns or issues, and be a go-between for residents and the facility. Though well known by the facility staff, they are not part of it. The LTCO program is a state program designed just for this purpose.

A statement on their flyer states: "Because dignity and quality of life are a right, not a privilege." In other words, they are there for you, and part of what they do is maintain current knowledge of policies, laws, etc that relate to long term care facilities.

To contact LTCO, contact Amber Garrotte at 360 986 0657, or toll free at 800 801 0060. You can also email her at garroaa1@dshs.wa.gov. Amber, and the trained volunteers who work with her are responsive, dedicated and caring people.

You are not alone...

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642 3634/888 571 6558

Raymond: 942 2177/888 571 6557

www.o3a.org

sheafdf@dshs.wa.gov

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