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September 17, 2007

Governor Blagojevich signs law to protect and promote the rights of residents of all ages living in long term care facilities
Legislation gives Long Term Care Ombudsmen the option to advocate for residents under age 60

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a law to protect and promote the rights of residents of all ages living in long term care facilities.  House Bill 1301, sponsored by State Representative Joseph Lyons (D-Chicago) and State Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), gives the state’s Long Term Care Ombudsmen the option to serve residents under 60 years of age, helping to ensure all residents are receiving the highest quality of care possible.
“People of all ages live in long term care facilities, so it’s imperative that protections extend to people all ages,” Gov. Blagojevich said.  “This new law gives our Ombudsmen the option to serve all residents of long term care facilities, regardless of age, including the disabled and sick children.”
Approximately 25% of the state’s long term care facility residents are under the age of 60.  Prior to HB 1301, Long Term Care Ombudsmen could only advocate for residents over 60 years old and be legally covered by the State.  HB 1301 gives Long Term Care Ombudsmen the option to have access to communicate privately and without restriction with any resident, regardless of age, who consents to the communication and will be legally protected by the State. 
HB 1301 also requires that the Office of State Long Term Care Ombudsman cooperate with all other State agencies in providing information and training on the appropriate assessment and treatment of the residents to designated regional long term care ombudsman programs, including children and persons with developmental disabilities to the list of residents in this specific section. 
“This bill is an important first step in protecting the rights of all nursing home residents, regardless of their age.  It will mean that at least some younger disabled adults and parents of profoundly disabled children will have access to outside help when they need protection from abuse or neglect or help improving the quality of their lives,” added Wendy Meltzer, Director of Illinois Citizens for Better Care.
The state’s Long Term Care Ombudsmen protect, defend and advocate for residents in long term care facilities, supportive living facilities, and assisted living and shared housing establishments.  The Long Term Care Ombudsmen inform residents and their families of their rights; resolve any complaints or issues; provide information on resident’s needs and concerns to their families, facility staff and their community; and advocate for good individualized care.
HB 1301 goes into effect immediately.


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