Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was established under Title VII
of the Older Americans Act (OAA). "The Administration on Aging
(AoA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers
the nationwide program. The LTC Ombudsman Program operates in every
US State, and are funded by two separate titles of the Older American's
Act, as well as other federal and state funds and sources, and nonfederal
funds. A large part of the staffing and program services are supported
through volunteers. There are over 12,600 volunteers currently serving
the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. To learn more, please view the
Older Americans Act:
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (.pdf) (will open in a .pdf document
in a new window.
Summary - A Long-Term
Care Ombudsman acts as a 3rd-party voice, or advocate for residents
living in assisted living facilities or other Long-Term Care environments.
A "LTC Ombudsman" can investigate complaints by both the
resident or the facility, and help to resolve problems and issues.
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman can also act as a liaison between a resident
and family members. Article By:David Besnette
- Founder/Editor for Assisted Living Directory
Without any doubt,
one of the strongest impressions that we get from the many questions
and emails that we receive daily about assisted living and long-term
care is that people are often-times lost and confused during the
process of trying to place a loved-one (or themselves) into assisted
This is very understandable
in the sense that families are often thrust into this process
very quickly, without much time to be able to learn about long-term
care and all of the countless variables, laws, state and federal
programs that are available, questions about costs and insurance
- as well as the emotional strain of making sure that mom or dad
are placed into the absolute best care based on their needs, budget,
It's can be an exhausting
process for everyone involved, and the stress and confusion doesn't
always stop once placement is complete.
After The Placement
- Resolving Issues And Complaints:
Unfortunately, what also
frequently happens after a loved-one is placed into assisted living
care is that the family, sons, or daughters go back to their own
hectic and busy lives, very possibly out-of-town, state, or country.
In a perfect world, we'd
like to think that mom and dad are in the best of hands, and that
issues forthcoming will be nonexistent, however, chances are that
things will come up that need to be addressed, and at times, serious
problems or missteps by a facility may warrant further investigation
by an outside person or entity.
Let's say that dad is
in an assisted living home, and his usual good-natured and cheerful
disposition turns for the worst. Perhaps dad has stopped eating,
and maybe there are physical signs like bruises or weight-loss
that are unexplainable.
Let's also add to that
the possibility that dad has a memory disorder, like Alzheimer's,
that makes him less able to voice his concerns, or to assert himself
How can a situation like
this be investigated by an unbiased third-party, especially if
dad's loved-ones or family are not close by?
This Is Where
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman Might Step In To Help.
In essence, a long-term
care ombudsman is a person, or a group of people (paid and volunteer)
who act as the voice, or who advocate for residents living in
nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other care environments.
Some of the things that
a LTC Ombudsman may specifically be able to do, or help you and
your family with are:
Help you to navigate the complicated process of finding assisted
living, or other qualified care based on your needs
Conflict and problem resolution. Complaints can be made by residents,
or the long-term care facilities themselves
Investigate complaints at facilities
To educate families, consumers, as well as assisted living and
long -term care providers about what their rights are, as well
as what acceptable care practices and procedures are
To offer volunteer opportunities and community involvement
Advocate for residents' rights
To promote the creation of resident, family and citizen councils
To report findings that can be summarized in the National Ombudsman
Reporting System. Data collected generally includes the number
of facilities that are visited, the nature of the complaints that
are filed, and the outcomes or resolutions from investigations,
visits or complaints.
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman can investigate address most any issue
that arises in a long-term care or assisted living facility. Commonly,
Ombudsmen will investigate any violations of residents' rights
and dignity, and any physical or mental abuse, whether intentional
or not. This can include inadequate care, poor nutrition, improper
transfers of residents, or unacceptable conditions due to faulty
heating or cooling within the facility (a common issue in the
summer and winter months). Essentially, any issue or complaint
generated by a resident, or a facility can be fair game for investigation.
For a much more detailed
explanation of what Long-Term Care Ombudsmen do, please visit
the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center "About
Ombudsmen" page, where you will also learn specifically what
resident rights are, and how you can get involved.
How Do Locate
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman?
This is the easy part,
and there are a number of ways to accomplish this.
What we did to find our
LTC Ombudsman for our state was to simply to an internet search
for 'Long Term Care Ombudsman (and state)' and immediately, our
information came up. However, there were multiple results, and
some that didn't seem as authoritative as the one we wanted, which
might be confusing to any less-than-saavy internet users.
Another great way to find
your local Ombudsman is to use the Ombudsman
Locator Map again on the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Resource Center website. This is an excellent tool that offers
a US map where each state may be selected, which then serves up
data about Ombudsmen based on your location. There is also a handy
drop-down menu that allows users to select a state as well.
We did a test of this
tool, and selected our state, and we found information for about
2 dozen Local and Regional Ombudsmen, with address and contact
information. Many of them had the name of the Ombudsman for that
For our state, we looked
at one of the recent annual reports for the Ombudsman program,
and we were impressed at the coverage and involvement that our
Ombudsmen provide. For our state, we found out that our Ombudsmen:
Consist of about 2 dozen full-time workers, assisted by over 100
part-time helpers and volunteer ombudsmen
Our state's ombudsmen visit every single assisted living residence
at least 4 times per year
Attended nearly 2000 residence and family council meetings, and
held thousands of facility and individual consultations.
Conducted hundreds of volunteer training sessions and training
sessions for the staff and workers at long-term care and assisted
We would like to think that all families who are considering assisted
living for a loved-one are aware of the many services available
to them through their region's Agency on
Aging, Division of Senior Services, and that a Long-term care
ombudsman is available to them, if needed after their loved one
is placed into a facility.
Unfortunately, this is
not always the case. In addition, issues and problems with residents,
or facilities may not always be voiced appropriately, or discovered
Your Involvement Matters!
If you have a family member
living in a long-term care environment, or assisted living, the
best thing that you can do to ensure their well-being during the
course of their stay is to visit the facility often, and to ask
plenty of questions about the care your loved-one is receiving.
Even if you live out of state, do not assume that a facility is
going to tell you everything you need to know, or that they will
report abuse, mistreatment, or substandard care.
The more that families
show interest in a facility through visits and check-ins, the
more the facility is likely to "stay on their toes"
when it comes to quality of care, cleanliness, staff professionalism,
and all other aspects of operating the facility.
In addition, we recommend
that families learn who their Ombudsman is, or is likely to be,
and check in with him or her periodically. If a facility has a
track record of shortcomings or negligence, or if there are any
changes (for better or for worse) happening at a facility, they
will very likely know about it, and will most certainly share
that information with you.
Lastly, if you suspect
anything that is questionable at your family member's facility,
bring it to the facility's attention immediately. If a resolution
is not quick and effective, we recommend having an Ombudsman investigate
Ensuring the best, most
ethical and professional care for those who we love is a collaborate,
- by the staff at
Assisted Living Directory
to this article:
We are really fortunate to live in a country where there are so
many great resources and avenues for help available to us, many
times for free. I think we take it for granted sometimes.
30 December 2012 at 2:32 pm
I have a dear friend who is only 57 years old and she is living
in a nursing home. She had a benign brain tumor removed when she
was 18 years old. Her body was ravaged by this but after months
of rehab she regained some control over her speech and mobility
and managed on her own for years. A few years ago she began falling
and could no longer live alone. She moved to be clear to family
and entered a nursin home. She has one brother and his wife but
they are busy o
People and discourage my friend from "bothering" them
too much. I feel she is losing what physical abilities she has
because she does not receive physical therapy. I think her quality
of life would be greatly improved by an ombudsman.
She resides in Baton Rouge, LA . Are there any ombudsmen specializing
in younger people who must live in long term facilities? Cindy
22 February 2012 at 2:32 pm
It's so true that many familes are in a tough spot when they all-of-a-sudden
learn that a family member needs help, or long-term care, and
they have no idea what services are available to them, or how
to proceed. Nice article!
7 November 2011 at 4:42 pm
"Ombudsman" is just such an interesting word - I don't
know many people who would know what that meant anyways, so your
article is certainly helpful! Thankfully I haven't had to rely
on one yet (my mom is in a memory care place in CA)
18 October 2011 at 12:11 pm
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