An ombudsman serves the public by reviewing and investigating complaints about a certain type of institution. One kind of ombudsman watches over long-term care facilities for the elderly, such as assisted living, adult family homes and nursing homes. In addition to handling specific complaints from the public, ombudsmen advocate on behalf of long-term care residents in general. Hundreds of ombudsmen exist throughout the United States, according to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. It is important for seniors and their families to be aware that ombudsmen exist and are there to turn to if the need should arise.
Some ombudsmen work for a regional government agency or a non-profit organization, while others are appointed by state or provincial governors. Ombudsmen may be compensated or work as volunteers. Salaried ombudsmen typically have greater responsibilities and work more hours. They perform administrative tasks and oversee employees. Some go as far as producing reports or newsletters to inform the public about issues regarding long-term senior care. Volunteer ombudsmen are supervised by educationally qualified managers. Depending upon the type and severity of a problem, a volunteer can resolve the issue personally or forward the complaint to another agency.
Although addressing issues and concerns with the care facility itself first is recommended, seniors are encouraged to contact an ombudsman about any mistreatment they received or observed in a long-term care facility. It’s also important to report neglect, which can be just as serious. Ombudsmen accept reports from anonymous or named sources. This allows residents and staff members to report without fear of retaliation in the work place or facility. In many areas, a toll-free number is available for making complaints. Some of these numbers operate at all times; others remain limited to business or daytime hours. Depending upon the state or province, it may also be possible to email, fax or mail such complaints.
Ombudsmen occasionally visit nursing or assisted living homes without receiving complaints. During elective visits they can take the opportunity to ask residents and staff about living conditions in a facility. Most states require the senior care facility to post the name and contact information of an ombudsman where it is visible to residents, staff and family.
Working with Adult Care Pro’s knowledgeable and passionate care advisors and knowing your rights and resources is a huge leap in the right direction for finding the very best senior housing for you or your loved one.
Written By: Tanja Powers, Senior Care Advisor at Adult Care Pro