VOYCE - an advocate for seniors you can count onIt’s great to have an advocate.

One of life’s little lessons is this: What you don’t know can hurt you. I see this play out in some unfortunate ways in the world of long term care. For most people, it’s new territory. For a senior advancing in years, the needs can be overwhelming, details can be confusing and the unknowns present a danger all their own.

–    How can you make sure you’re getting what you need in the way of rehab, dental care, hearing aids or pain management?

–    When your dad faces eviction from the community where here’s been a resident for four years, what do you do?

–    When your older sister is a thousand miles away, how can you find a high quality long term care community for her and make sure she’s getting the care she needs once she’s there?

–    When your husband wants to leave the skilled care facility and spend his final days at home, how do you find out what your options are?

Fortunately, there’s a great solution. VOYCE is an excellent resource for those who want to better understand complex issues, get guidance or benefit from the help of an advocate. Their mission is to improve the care and quality of life for seniors.

How Was VOYCE Formed?

The Older Americans Act was passed in 1978, in response to concerns about neglect and abuse in long-term care communities. The Act requires every state to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was founded in St. Louis in 1979. The name was later changed to VOYCE. They serve the St. Louis metropolitan area and a total of 21 Missouri counties. Their funding comes from sources like the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, St. Louis Area Agency on Aging and Northeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging. Organizations like The United Way is also a source of support, along with contributions and grants from corporations and individuals.

VOYCE is Proactive

VOYCE doesn’t just respond to complaints or concerns. Throughout the 21 counties they serve, their staff and volunteers make regular visits to communities, assuring that residents are being properly cared for. As a trusted third party, they offer the opportunity to answer questions, address concerns, and see to it that your interests are protected.

You Can Get Help

VOYCE offers help on so many levels, it’s hard to describe in a short article, but here’s a brief breakdown.

–    The VOYCE website (voycestl.org) is a great place to learn more about their services, get general information about long term care, download the Consumer Resource Guide and find out about other available resources.

–    Get help from an OMBUDSMAN. They will listen, help you understand your rights and see to it that your concerns are addresses without interference or fear of reprisal.

–    The VOYCEconnect helpline is a convenient way to reach out for help or information. Although only available during normal business hours, you’ll find a helpful friendly specialist on the other end.

It’s great to have an advocate. Are you a senior who wants to know more about your rights as a long-term care resident? Are you a legal guardian who wants to be sure that care is being properly given? You can trust VOYCE to be your go-to resource.