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Department of Aging: Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Announces March Dates for Virtual Family Council Meetings

03/06/2021

Harrisburg, PAThe Pennsylvania Department of Aging's Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman today announced the dates and topics for the upcoming Virtual Family Council (VFC) meetings in March.

In response to restrictions on visits in long-term care facilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VFC began in May 2020 as an online forum for families that could not have in-person visits with their loved ones living in these facilities. Led by ombudsmen and family members, the biweekly meetings bring families and advocates together for sharing, support and learning. The VFC has received national attention and has become a model for other states looking to develop similar programs.  

"The staff and volunteers with our Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman have been going above and beyond to support families of long-term care residents with the Virtual Family Council. In addition, ombudsmen have been working directly with nursing homes to develop connections in accordance with a family's needs and a facility's procedures and capabilities," said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. "Their compassion, tenacity, and creative approach to problem-solving has made a difference for long-term care residents and their families and has helped us all chart a path for innovative visitation and communication practices moving forward." 

The VFC meetings will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and will discuss selected topics on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, March 9, a representative from the Center for Medicare Advocacy will discuss common concerns regarding Medicare coverage and appeals for Nursing Home Therapy and hospitals observation status.
  • Tuesday, March 23, a regional APPRISE coordinator will discuss the APPRISE program and how it can help residents in long-term care facilities and where those services can be accessed.

In addition to the discussions on the featured topics, the VFC offers families a chance to virtually connect with a local ombudsman and other experts to ask questions and discuss protocols, rights, and procedures for their loved ones in long-term care facilities. The meetings do not address specific issues regarding a resident or a facility. 

To get VFC connection information, email jarotz@pa.gov and in the subject line, indicate Virtual Family Council.  

Learn more about the Ombudsman's Office and the various programs offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Eilber, agingcomms@pa.gov

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