nursing home concerns

Nursing Home Concerns: The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Is your loved one in a nursing home, or an assisted living facility or any kind of adult care for the elderly away from your home?  Even if the patient does not live at home with you, you are still a caregiver, because you are concerned with the care of your loved one.  You probably visit the facility often, maybe even daily.  And you probably have some opinions about the quality, efficiency, and competency of the staff members and the care given there.  I hope there are no nursing home problems. I hope that you see positive things about the facility,  that you trust the staff, and that you  let them know that you are grateful for their work.

Read more about Nursing Home Visitation

However, what if you have nursing home concerns? What do you do? It would be best to discuss the problems or concerns with the administrator or director of the facility first.  Then, if you are convinced that your concerns are serious, and they are not being resolved, there is help available for nursing home concerns.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

It’s a nation-wide program at the Area Agencies on Aging called Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, board and care homes, and similar adult care homes. LTCOPs provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care, and they are trained to resolve problems.  Each state has an office of Ombudsman where there are agency employees and where training for volunteer ombudsmen is offered. Across each state there are regionally located offices, and locally in the nursing homes, there are local ombudsmen, usually a volunteer for each nursing home.   The volunteer ombudsman at your facility is there to help residents have a voice and get information and assistance they need.

You may have noticed a poster or flyer at the nursing home you visit that lists the name and phone number of the ombudsman for that particular nursing home. Look for the LTC Ombudsman poster in your facility.   Or, ask a staff member at the facility for the name and phone number  of the ombudsman. Or, call the state’s Long-Term Care Office of the Ombudsman in your state.  See the website at the end of this article.

Discuss Your Concerns

Contact that person and discuss your nursing home concerns with him or her. If you and the resident have concerns about poor quality of care, use of chemical or physical restraints, lack of responsiveness to requests, inadequate discharge planning, or any violation of residents’ rights, then do not hesitate to discuss these with the ombudsman.  You, the resident and  the ombudsman can  talk to the nursing home director about the resident’s problems and concerns. Ombudsmen help resolve issues and investigate complaints, but they do not regulate facilities.   However, the ombudsman will know what steps to take if further action is needed by local or state authorities. An ombudsman will work on the complaint and solution only with the permission of the resident or the resident’s caregiver.  There is never a charge for the ombudsman’s services, and matters are kept confidential.

View “Tips for Senior Bathing’.

How to Find Help

You can find the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in your area of your state at their website.

You could volunteer to be an ombudsman for a nursing home or assisted living center in your area.  To find out how to apply and take the training, contact your state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

As a caregiver for a resident in a nursing home or elder care facility, you and your ombudsman are the eyes and ears, voices and problem-solvers for each elderly resident there.  Thank your ombudsman for being there, and thank you for being the caregiver who cares for a nursing home resident.


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