MUSKOGEE - The Oklahoma Living Choice Program is administered by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and strives to help nursing home residents return to the community.

"Many residents express a desire to return to their homes and communities, but are unable to do so for a variety of reasons. The Living Choice program is designed to help residents in overcoming these obstacles, which may include lack of housing, acute medical needs and lack of services," said Scott Harding, ombudsman supervisor.

The Living Choice Program may be able to help with providing some of these services and assisting residents in returning to the community.

The services Living Choice may be able to provide include: housing, meals, transportation, personal care and help with managing medications. The program also can provide funds to assist individuals in their transition back to the community.

"The Living Choice Program is not for everyone. Despite the desire to do so, many long-term care residents are unable to successfully transition out of a long-term care facility. Reasons for this may include lack of family support, required level of care and services, lack of available housing and other barriers," said Harding.

To qualify for the program, individuals must meet the following requirements: be at least 19 years of age; have been a Medicaid recipient for at least one day of services in a facility; be a resident in a nursing home for 90 days; and be willing and able to participate in the program's transition and care plan.

The process of transitioning out of a long-term care facility through the Living Choice Program can take several months. Currently, the program is accepting referrals, but has not started the process of doing in-person visits or assessments with residents due to the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If you or a loved one is interested in moving out of a long-term care facility, the Living Choice Program may be able to help," said Harding. "There are a number of ways to get more information."

The program's phone number is 888-287-2443; and the email is oklahoma.livingchoice@okhca.org. Online referrals can be made at www.okhca.org/ReferralHome.aspx?ref=LC.

To contact a local long-term care ombudsman at the Eastern Oklahoma Development District Area Agency on Aging for information and assistance, call Harding at 918-913-9582 or Gina Elliott at 918-913-9587.

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