Solve Long-Term Care Issues
An Ombudsman Can Help
The word “Ombudsman” is a Swedish term for a person who acts as a third party in resolving problems. A Long-Term Care Ombudsman can assist consumers who are choosing long-term care providers (nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, retirement communities, adult day care programs and home care agencies) by offering information on an individual provider’s services, history of complaints and their licensure status.
Ombudsmen are advocates who work to improve the quality of life for seniors and other individuals receiving long-term care services. In addition to providing the information necessary to make an informed decision about a long-term care provider, an Ombudsman can also investigate and help resolve complaints against specific long-term care providers. Utilizing volunteers, an Ombudsman can arrange for weekly visits to a long-term care facility.
The overall goal of an Ombudsman is to educate the community at large about long-term care issues while simultaneously helping to train the staff of long-term care providers. An Ombudsman can inform consumers of their rights and long-term care providers of their responsibilities.
What Can an Ombudsman Do?
An Ombudsman can formally address complaints and concerns. The Ombudsman strives to empower the resident first and then intervene as needed. They can assist through counseling, formal complaint investigation and negotiation.
The counseling received from an Ombudsman is strictly confidential and can help individuals become an advocate for themselves or a loved one. An Ombudsman will listen to complaints and then other information and referrals via the telephone, email or at an in-person visit to a long-term care facility.
If the concern requires a formal investigation, the Ombudsman will act as an advocate on behalf of the long-term care recipient during this investigation. He/she will gather facts and relevant information to determine whether the complaint is valid. en the Ombudsman will work with the long-term care recipient or their representative and the provider to determine the appropriate course to resolve the problem.
This article was adapted from www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ltcombudsman, which explains the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in detail.
Published: June 2014
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