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National Long Term Care Ombudsman

MAP  <-  Find Ombudsman Program in your State

Residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and adult care facilities and their families have strong advocates in the nations long-term care ombudsmen, according to the annual report, National Long Term Care Ombudsman Report released by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA).

"A goal of AoAs Ombudsman Program is to empower long-term care residents and their families to be informed long-term care consumers and to facilitate the resolution of problems regarding care and conditions in long-term care facilities," said Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Aging, Jeanette C. Takamura.

A primary area of focus of ombudsmen is the involuntary discharge of residents from nursing homes. Another area is the improper use and creative alternatives to the use of physical and chemical restraints.

Long term care facilities wanting Medicare or Medicaid funding are to provide services so that each resident can attain and maintain her highest practicable physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being. Medicaid Provision: 42 U.S.C. 1396r(b)(4)  and Medicare Provision: 42 U.S.C. 1395i-3(b)(4)

Problems & Help:

Problems can arise even in the best nursing homes. If there are problems, concerns or a complaint about any aspect of the care or treatment of a loved one in a nursing home, a number of different approaches can be taken to resolve those problems.

It is usually a good idea to try to resolve the problems within the facility and at the lowest possible level. If that is not successful, work your way up the nursing home "chain of command." Finally, there are also outside agencies that can provide assistance if the problem is still not resolved. The approach taken will depend on the type of problem and what one may be most comfortable with. However, some cases, such as abuse or neglect, need to be reported immediately to your State Department of Health and Adult Protective Services.

Before working to solve a problem, gather as much specific and factual information as possible about the concern. Obtain as much of the "who, what, where, when, how and why" information that is available. It is important to be as precise as possible in conveying what is wrong.

What the Ombudsman Program can help you with:

The ombudsman can help with concerns and problems about:

  • the quality of long term care provided
  • facility residents rights
  • personal needs allowance
  • physical abuse and neglect
  • dietary needs
  • financial issues (i.e. billing, government benefits, financial exploitation)
  • physical or chemical restraints
  • facility transfer and discharge issues
  • privacy and confidentiality
  • denial of community services
 The ombudsman can help with questions like:
  • What are some alternatives to nursing home placement?
  • How can you pay for long term care?
  • When should power of attorney or guardianship be initiated?
  • How do you go about finding the appropriate community-based services?
  • Do residents have the right to refuse treatment?