Virtual Family Council meetings scheduled

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman has announced the dates and topics for the upcoming Virtual Family Council meetings in February.

In response to the forced isolation 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 long-term care 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 volunteers and ombudsmen staff throughout Pennsylvania have been the driving force behind the Virtual Family Council since its inception. The council has included additional elements of discussion to provide a greater knowledge on a variety of topics,” said State

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Margaret Barajas. “Throughout this challenging, isolating time for residents, the council has also shone a loving light on the key role that compassionate caregivers play in quality of care for residents.” 

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

Tuesday, February 9, the Center for Loss and Bereavement will be presenting. The center provides professional counseling, support services and education for families, individuals, and organizations dealing with loss and bereavement.

 Tuesday, February 23, the topic involves the Pen Pal Project and Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents Perspective. The discussion will begin with an upcoming new project designed to connect long-term care residents with school-aged children to become pen pals. Then, a panel of six PEERs will share their experience from inside LTC facilities.

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 LTC-Ombudsman@pa.gov and in the subject line, indicate Virtual Family Council.