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Oct. 3-9 is Residents' Rights Week
in Illinois    
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[OCT. 5, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich proclaimed Oct. 3-9 as Residents' Rights Week in Illinois, calling attention to the state's more than 100,000 citizens who reside in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

"All residents are guaranteed certain rights associated with their long-term care. Those rights include the right to safety, to privacy, to participate in their own care, to manage their own money and the freedom of choice," said Gov. Blagojevich. "During Residents' Rights Week, we hope to raise awareness about these rights and our state programs designed to protect those rights."

The Illinois Department on Aging administers the Illinois Long Term Care Ombudsman program, a resident-centered advocacy program that protects and improves the quality of care and quality of life for residents of long-term care facilities. The program trains staff and volunteers to educate residents and families about residents' rights and minimum standards and to resolve complaints reported to the program.

Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an ombudsman program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system, including choice of care, respect, dignity, the right to vote, the right to visitation, the right to privacy, the right to complain and the right to make independent choices.

"This year's theme, 'Spotlight on Quality: Focus on Residents' Rights,' reaffirms the simple fact that residents of long-term facilities have rights, the same basic rights that you and me have who still live in the comforts of our own home," said Charles Johnson, director of the Department on Aging. "Our department is committed to supporting the rights of nursing home residents by working every day to assure that every older person in this state is treated with respect and dignity. These basic rights should not be affected or diminished because of our place of residence."

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The governor's proclamation reads as follows: 

WHEREAS, according to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 1.5 million Illinois citizens over the age of 65; and

WHEREAS, there are approximately 100,000 senior citizens living in long-term-care facilities throughout the state; and

WHEREAS, in 1973, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program was created as part of the Illinois Act on Aging, and the U.S. Older Americans Act. This Program seeks to protect and promote the rights of residents of long-term-care facilities, as well as improve their quality of life within those facilities; and

WHEREAS, this program ensures that long-term-care residents have the right to safety and privacy, participation in their own care, manage their own money, and the right to apply for Medicare and Medicaid; and

WHEREAS, the Illinois Department on Aging encourages seniors to know their rights as residents of long-term-care facilities to help ensure that they are not abused or neglected:

THEREFORE, I, Rod Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim October 3-9, 2004 as RESIDENTS' RIGHTS WEEK in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to be aware of the many different issues facing the senior citizens of this state.

[News release from the governor's office]

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