Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. They are trained to resolve problems. If you want, the ombudsman can assist you with complaints. However, unless you give the ombudsman permission to share your concerns, these matters are kept confidential. Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system.
The ombudsman program is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA). The network has 8,155 volunteers certified to handle complaints and 2,257 paid staff. Most state ombudsman programs are housed in their State Unit on Aging. Nationally, in 2014 the ombudsman program investigated over 191,553 complaints on behalf of 125,642 individuals and provided information on long-term care to another 288,698 people.
Whether through individual contact with residents or systemic advocacy, ombudsmen make a difference in the lives of residents in long-term care facilities everyday.
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman:
Resolves complaints made by or for residents of long-term care facilities
Educates consumers and long-term care providers about residents' rights and good care practices
Promotes community involvement through volunteer opportunities
Provides information to the public on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and services, residents' rights and legislative and policy issues
Advocates for residents' rights and quality care in nursing homes, personal care, residential care and other long-term care facilities
Promotes the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils
Long-term care ombudsmen efforts are summarized in the National Ombudsman Reporting System (Click here for current NORS data) to include the number of facilities visited, the types of complaints handled and the kinds of complaints filed with ombudsmen. Data has been collected since 1996 and gives a good picture of the extent of ombudsman activities nationally and in every state.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: History, Role and Responsibilities
This presentation provides a general overview of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) highlighting the history, role and responsibilities of the program. Every state has a LTCOP, but each state operates their program differently. Therefore, this presentation will only address the program responsibilities required by federal law so the information is applicable in every state. At the conclusion of this presentation you should have an understanding about what the LTCOP does, who Long-Term Care Ombudsmen (LTCO) represent and how to work with the LTCO. LTCO can use this presentation when training potential LTCO, during Resident Council and Family Council meetings, community education, and in-services for facility staff.
Fact Sheet: Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program - What You Must Know
This resource walks readers through what the long-term care ombudsman program is, what the Ombudsman program does and does not do, links to information on residents’ rights, and some helpful FAQs. This fact sheet was developed in partnership with The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
This video provides a detailed discussion on the history of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and the work that Ombudsman across the country do on a daily basis to help residents of long-term care facilities.
Featuring Elma Holder, the founder of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, formerly the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR); Sue Wheaton, former Ombudsman Specialist with the Administration on Aging; and facilitated by William Benson, Health Benefits ABC.
The right of citizenship. Nursing home residents do not lose any of their rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, to religious freedom and to associate with whom they choose.
The right to dignity. Residents of nursing homes are honored guests and have the right to be so treated.
The right to privacy. Nursing home residents have the right to privacy whenever possible, including the right to privacy with their spouse, the right to have their medical and personal records treated in confidence, and the right to private, uncensored communication.
The right to personal property. Nursing home residents have the right to possess and use personal property and to manage their financial affairs.
The right to information. Nursing home residents have the right to information, including the regulations of the home and the costs for services rendered. They also have the right to participate in decisions about any treatment, including the right to refuse treatment.
The right of freedom. Nursing home residents have the right to be free from mental or physical abuse and from physical or chemical restraint unless ordered by their physician.
The right to care. Residents have the right to equal care, treatment and services provided by the facility without discrimination.
The right of residence. Nursing home residents have the right to live at the home unless they violate publicized regulations. They may not be discharged without timely and proper notification to both the resident and the family or guardian.
The right of expression. Nursing home residents have the right to exercise their rights, including the right to file complaints and grievances without fear or reprisal.