LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM
Across the USA.
Volunteer long-term care ombudsmen volunteer their time to visit nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and board and care facilities.
Volunteers handle grievances by listening to resident complaints, concerns and providing conflict resolution between a resident and the long-term care facility's administration. In the case of elder abuse, volunteer ombudsman work with staff ombudsman who in turn work with law and other enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute abusers.
Volunteer ombudsman visits can be either random in order to get a true sense of what is happening at the facility or as a result of a specific complaint received by staff at the office.
The role of the ombudsman is to act as an advocate for resident's rights and watch out for signs of elder abuse. The quality of life for an elderly resident can dramatically improve simply by the ombudsman's presence in a nursing facility.
Volunteer ombudsman perform the following duties:
- Resolve complaints made by or for senior residents of long-term care facilities.
- Educate consumers and long-term care providers about senior residents' rights.
- Provide information to the public on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and services, residents' rights and legislative and policy issues.
- Advocate for senior residents' rights - quality care in nursing homes, personal care, etc.
- Promotes the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils.
Volunteer ombudsman are trained to handle the following complaints in nursing facilities:
- Violation of senior residents' rights or dignity.
- Physical, verbal or mental abuse, deprivation of services necessary to maintain residents' physical and mental health, or unreasonable confinement.
- Poor quality of care (inadequate personal hygiene and slow response to requests for assistance)
- Improper transfer or discharge of patient.
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints.
- Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life.
Senior residents of nursing homes are entitled to the following rights:
- The right of citizenship - nursing home residents do not lose their right 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 with their spouse, with regard to medical and personal records and other 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 (regulations and cost of the facility) along with 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.
Volunteer long-term care ombudsmen activities and visits are entered into the National Ombudsman Reporting System. Data is kept on record to show the number of facilities visited, the types of complaints handled along with hours logged.
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is under funded and relies heavily on volunteer ombudsman who are provided with 36 hours of class room training and 16 hours of field training with a mentor ombudsman. Skilled nursing facilities are only required to be inspected by the Department of Health once a year. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program can fill the gap of what happens the other 364 days of the year in nursing homes.
* In 1978 Congress amended the Older Americans Act to include a requirement that each state develop a long-term Care Ombudsman Program. The 1992 Older Americans Act amendments added a new provision requiring the Administration on Aging to establish a National Ombudsman Resource Center. The center deals with many issues including state and federal laws and regulations on enforcement.
WATCH VIDEO OF 'LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN' PROGRAM