Majoros Receives National Advocacy Award
Jackie Majoros, the State Long Term Care Ombudsman for Vermont, received the Cernoria Johnson Memorial Advocacy Award at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) Annual Conference in Arlington, Virginia on November 16. The award recognizes Majoros for work that has had national impact, is a model for national excellence and/or exemplifies accomplishment in her field.
Majoros has served as Vermont’s State Long Term Care Ombudsman and as director of the Vermont Ombudsman Project at Vermont Legal Aid since 1996. Before that, she was a staff attorney in Vermont Legal Aid’s Senior Citizens Law Project, where she represented individuals and groups in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies.
In remarks made after she accepted the award, Majoros acknowledged the other advocates in the audience and her team of ombudsmen in Vermont for working so hard over the years to improve the quality of care for people receiving long term care services and supports.
“When I met with clients as a lawyer in the Senior Citizens Law Project, we didn't talk about how lonely they were, that they were told to wear a diaper because the staff didn't have time to take them to the toilet, or that they hadn't had a bath since they moved to the home. They didn't show me thepressure sores on their heels or the bruises on their shins. They didn't tell me that they spent the night in their wheelchair because their home health aide didn't show up or that they hadn't seen their homemaker in two weeks,” Majoros said.“I am hopeful that by working individually and together, we can reform our long term care system so that stories like these no longer need to be told.”
As the State Long Term Care Ombudsman, Majoros advocates for individuals in facilities and in the community who need long term care services and supports. She has served on numerous work groups, legislative task forces and study committees. Currently, she is a member of the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project Steering Committee and Vermont’s Medicaid and Exchange Advisory Board, where she represents the interests of individuals who need long term services and supports as Vermont moves toward a single payer health care system.
Becky Kurtz, director of the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in the Administration for Community Living, presented the award to Majoros. Kurtz said that Majoros’ work has had a national impact. “As federal agencies recently looked at models for consumer assistance within Medicaid managed long-term care services and supports, we reached out to Jackie. We wanted to learn from her experience.” Kurtz also cited several examples of Majoros’ work to benefit older adults and individuals with disabilities in Vermont.
Among those accomplishments, Majoros helped to envision the transformation of Vermont’s long term care services and supports system from a nursing home-focused model to the Choices for Care Program that provides options for consumers. She also advocated during the Program’s implementation to ensure that the rules and procedures protected consumer rights and provided for self-direction. Vermont’s Choices for Care Program has served as a model for many states across the country.
In addition, Majoros has worked to strengthen Vermont’s home health licensing regulations, advocated to improve adult protective services, worked to reform Vermont’s guardianship system, and championed the state’s advance care planning laws.
“Jackie and the small staff and group of volunteer ombudsmen she manages are making an incredible difference in the lives of vulnerable Vermonters who need long term care services and supports,” said Eric Avildsen, executive director of Vermont Legal Aid. “Jackie and the other ombudsmen made more than 1,000 visits to long term care facilities and investigated 521 complaints last year alone. Jackie’s leadership ensures that Vermonters have more choices about how they spend the last years of their lives.”
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care was formed as the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform in 1975 to address public concern about substandard care in nursing homes. The organization represents consumers on issues related to long term care, working to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. The Cernoria Johnson Memorial Advocacy Award is named for Cernoria McGowan Johnson (1909-1990), who set up the national program of Nursing Home Ombudsmen in 1974.
Vermont Legal Aid is a statewide, non-profit law firm that provides free civil legal information, advice and representation and works to promote fairness and justice in the civil legal system. Vermont Legal Aid partners with Legal Services Law Line of Vermont to maintain a website (www.vtlawhelp.org) that provides information and resources to help Vermonters resolve common civil legal problems.