There was a time last year when things looked pretty bleak for Kelli’s grandmother, Eudora.
After living in her own home under less-than-ideal conditions, Eudora was dropped off unceremoniously at a long-term care facility by a relative. When Kelli learned of her grandmother’s new whereabouts, she visited the facility and discovered Eudora was being administered anti-psychotic medications, often used to pacify patients to a point of emotional numbness.
When Kelli saw her grandmother, she was concerned. A call was made to SNAP’s Eastern Washington Long-term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) program and SNAP Ombudsman Specialist Pauline Posey dropped by the care center to investigate.
“Kelli felt the anti-psychotic medications were not helpful for her grandmother” said SNAP Regional Ombudsman Aaron Riley, “I told her to not back down. If your grandmother doesn’t need these medications, you should insist the facility not give them to her.”
Riley recommended that the care center conduct a second assessment of Eudora. When she was taken off the drugs, she became, in Riley’s words, “more alert, in tune and coherent.”
The transition off the medications not only had a positive effect on Eudora, it translated into a ripple effect at the facility.
“Because of this, Eudora became an advocate for other residents,” Riley said. “She was looking out for them. To me, that showed how much compassion she has. She didn’t just sit there when the people around her needed help.”
Meanwhile, Kelli continued to campaign for Eudora’s quality of life in her new home, eventually becoming her grandmother’s power-of-attorney. With that authority, she was able to verify Eudora’s income, secure Medicaid determination and work toward selling her grandmother’s mobile home. Riley and LTCO were by her side each step of the way.
“It really was a crash course in human services, property assets, estate planning, all of that,” Riley said. “There were a lot of little pitfalls along the way. I just told Kelli it could take a awhile but don’t lose faith.”
Kelli was ultimately able to facilitate a move for Eudora to a well-respected facility that is near her home.
“She is by far in the best place as far as nursing facilities go that I could have hoped for in the area,” Kelli said. “They do not assign more than two people to a room and if there is a conflict of any kind they adjust the situation and find roommates better suited for each other.”
These days, Kelli drops by to see her grandmother regularly, often for a movie night, complete with treats. Her room includes a view of a garden area and she enjoys a private patio space just outside her door. What seemed like a scenario severely lacking in hope just a year ago has taken a dramatic turn for the better – thanks to a determined granddaughter and her connection to the right resources.
“I went through a lot to get to this point but it is definitely one of the best things I have ever accomplished in my lifetime,” said Kelli.
Kelli expressed her gratitude for Riley, Posey and the LTCO program for “all of the help you have given to my grandmother and I. Things are going well.”
SNAP’s LTCO program features just over 30 volunteers who advocate for the rights of those living in long-term care facilities in five Eastern Washington counties. Last year, the program accounted for 2,071 facility visits and 4,495 volunteer hours. More volunteers are always needed, according to Riley.
Riley said the encouraging story of Kelli and Eudora sums up the ombudsman mission.
“It’s really what this is all about – quality of life and quality of care,” he said. “Now Eudora’s days are filled with good things and comfort. It’s the way she should be able to live out her golden years.”
To find out more about SNAP’s Eastern Washington Long Term Care Ombudsman program, call (509) 456-7133 or visit their website HERE.