August 27, 2010
What is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes, as well as board and care homes. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. They are trained to resolve problems and can assist with complaints by working directly with the facility staff to solve the problems or by making referrals to the appropriate agency. Any information shared with the ombudsman is confidential unless permission is given to use the resident’s or complainant’s name.
The word “Ombudsman” is Swedish for citizen representative. The ombudsman is not a staff person of the facility; he or she is resource for consumers, residents, their families and friends who need help navigating the complicated long-term care system. Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and is the resident voice in the long-term care system. The District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico also have long-term care ombudsman programs.
The ombudsman’s job is to be the voice of the resident on an individual level in resolving complaints and on a system-wide level by representing the needs of residents in laws and regulations about long-term care. Ombudsman visit facilities on a regular basis. Consumers can also call the ombudsman for information or help.
According to the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, the programs do the following:
- Resolve complaints made by or for residents of long-term care facilities
- Educate consumers and long-term care providers about residents’ rights and good care practices
- Promote community involvement through volunteer opportunities
- 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 residents’ rights and quality care in nursing homes, personal care, residential care and other long-term care facilities
- Promote the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils
How can I find a Long-Term Care Ombudsman in my state?
Use our Resource Locator to find a Long-Term Care Ombudsman in your area. You can search by specific address, city, state, or ZIP code.
A great resource for more information on Ombudsman is The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. They provide resources for residents looking for an ombudsman as well as training and support for the ombudsmen themselves. They have a great search function that provides state-by-state contact information for a variety of government services, including Ombudsman Offices:
The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
Administration for Community Living Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program