What is the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program?
Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities and similar adult care facilities. They work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about changes at the local, state and national levels to improve care. While most residents receive good care in long-term care facilities, far too many are neglected, and other unfortunate incidents of psychological, physical and other kinds of abuse do occur. Thus, thousands of trained volunteer ombudsmen regularly visit long-term care facilities, monitor conditions and care, and provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves.
Begun in 1972 as a demonstration program, the Ombudsman Program today is established in all states under the Older Americans Act, which is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA). Local ombudsmen work on behalf of residents in hundreds of communities throughout the country.
Long Term Care Ombudsman Results
In 2005, about 13,800 volunteers, 9,187 of whom were certified to investigate complaints and 1,277 paid ombudsmen served in 572 localities nationwide. Ombudsmen investigated over 300,000 complaints made by 186,000 individuals and provided information on long-term care to another 306,000 people. The most frequent nursing home complaints involved lack of resident care due to inadequate staffing.
Ombudsmen help residents and their families and friends understand and exercise rights that are guaranteed by law, both at the federal level and in many states. Residents have the right to:
- be treated with respect and dignity;
- be free from chemical and physical restraints;
- manage their own finances;
- voice grievances without fear of retaliation;
- associate and communicate privately with any person of their choice;
- send and receive personal mail;
- have personal and medical records kept confidential;
- apply for state and federal assistance without discrimination;
- be fully informed prior to admission of their rights, services available and all charges; and be given advance notice of transfer or discharge.
The Ombudsman Program Assists Older Adults by empowering adults as they age with reliable information and access to the care they need. The program enables individuals who are at high risk of nursing home placement to remain at home. Another aspect of the program is building disease prevention into community living through the use of low-cost, evidence based programs.
The AoA recognizes the importance of making information readily available to consumers, professionals, researchers, and students. Their website provides information for and about older persons, their families, and professionals involved in aging programs and services.
For more information about AoA, please contact: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging through their website at www.aoa.gov.
Ombudsman Responsibilities are:
Ombudsman responsibilities outlined in Title VII of the Older Americans Act include:
- identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents;
- provide information to residents about longterm care services
- represent the interests of residents before governmental agencies and seeking administrative, legal and other remedies to protect residents;
- analyze, comment on and recommend changes in laws and regulations pertaining to the health, safety, welfare and rights of residents;
- educate and inform consumers and the general public regarding issues and concerns related to long-term care and facilitate public comment on laws, regulations, policies and actions;
- promote the development of citizen organizations to participate in the program;
- provide technical support for the development of resident and family councils to protect the well-being and rights of residents, and
- advocate for changes to improve residents’ quality of life and care.
Source: US Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging, www.aoa.gov, www.ltcombudsman.org
Provided by: The Staff at www.RetirementConnection.com
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