Wouldn’t it be great to know that you and your senior loved one have an advocate, someone to whom you can turn to help resolve issues with your senior’s care?
If your senior is a resident of a senior living facility — nursing homes, assisted living facilities, board and care homes or adult residential care homes, you DO have an advocate, the Long Term Care Ombudsman!
An ombudsman is an advocate who serves to protect the civil and human rights of elderly and disabled residents living in long term care facilities. They play an important role in protecting your senior loved one.
The Long Term Care Ombudsman is trained to help solve problems and mediate solutions for your senior. They help investigate complaints and reach resolutions. Every family caregiver should be aware that their loved one in a facility is protected by an Ombusdman and know how to reach out to that important resource.
An Ombudsman investigates complaints, represents the interests of residents and seeks resolution to the problems that resulted in the complaints. These are some of their duties:
- Educates residents, family members, facility staff, and even the community about residents’ rights, recognizing abuse and other topics for care of seniors
- Advocates for residents’ rights — protects the health, safety, welfare, human and civil right of long-term care residents
- Source of information and referral for long term care programs and services in the area
- Advocates on the local and state levels for improvements in regulations that would improve the care of our seniors
- Observes and identifies any gaps in services provided by facilities, government or community programs
- Assists residents who cannot adequately voice their concerns; works with legal authorities or family members on behalf of residents
- Responsible in many states for a Friendly Visitor Program; This program provides trained volunteers to long term care facilities to help residents learn their rights, resolve minor complaints, participate in resident or family council meetings on behalf of residents, and communicate concerns with administrators
Reach Out to Your Senior’s Ombudsman
Each state has a Long Term Care Ombudsman program established under the federal Older Americans Act; you can locate yours National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
Your advocate will keep your identity confidential if you desire, so you can contact them without fear of retribution against your senior loved one if you voice concern about their care.
An Ombudsman can be a great resource for information about the welfare of seniors, information concerning seniors such as Medicare benefits, advance directives, community services and other topics.
The services of an Ombudsman are free to the resident and family.
For Complaints Your Can’t Resolve on Your Own
Remember, no facility is going to be perfect every day. Generally, all (you may, unfortunately encounter an exception) strive to provide good care to the elders they serve. Even in the best, though, there may be issues that threaten the well-being of your senior loved one.
You should always keep open lines of communication with the nursing and administrative staff of the facility, discussing your concerns immediately to give them the opportunity to correct the situation.
If you feel you have a valid complaint that is getting no action from the facility staff, it is time to seek the help of your Ombudsman.
We encourage you to seek the help of your local Ombudsman if you feel it is needed. Even if you don’t need it, just knowing someone is in your senior’s corner and can intervene if needed can be a source of great peace of mind.
Have you or a loved one received the services of a Long Term Care Ombudsman? If so, we’d love to have you share it with us (without any personal or confidential information, of course) and let others benefit from your experience.