Ombudsmen often hear many kinds of concerns either from the residents or their family members, including missing items-especially clothing, that doesn’t come back to the resident. With all the laundry that the facility must do, most people are very understanding about it, up to a point. So what’s a person to do? Doesn’t this happen everywhere? Isn’t this just something you have to put up with when you live in a nursing home? The answer is No!

Oklahoma and Federal law state that: The resident has the right to security in storage and use of their personal items, including their clothing. This has been in Oklahoma and Federal law for over 30 years.

Here are a few things you can do to help keep those missing items to a minimum and have them replaced by the facility, if they do not come back.

1. Every resident has an inventory sheet in their record. This is a record of their personal items, including clothing that the resident brings with them to the facility. Ask the facility to make you a copy. Also, if you don’t have a sharpie, borrow one and make sure that all items are marked.

2. From time to time check those items to see if you can still read the name. Some facilities will do this for you, but your best bet is to check them yourself from time to time.

3. At Christmas, on Birthdays and on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, or any time new items are brought in, make sure that #1, items are all marked and #2, all new items are placed on the inventory list, BEFORE you leave the building. Many complaints have started off, “I just bought that for her for Christmas!”

4. You may want to schedule a time periodically to change out seasonal clothing, if possible, and again, revise that inventory sheet. Some people have kept track of it on the computer, which makes life easier for them.

If items do come up missing, report it immediately to either the administrator or the director of nursing. Often someone has just misplaced the items; put them in another resident’s closet, etc. If the items are not found, and you can prove they were in the facility because they were logged in on the inventory list, it is a smoother path toward getting those items replaced. Of course, if all else fails, you can call the Ombudsman Supervisor, Michelle Goins, at COEDD, 1-800-375-8255 Extension 127.