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Senior scene

April 26, 2014

From the Office: Stay active, involved by becoming a long-term care ombudsman

We know that there is a direct link between volunteering and increased physical and mental health for older adults. 

Becoming a long-term care ombudsman is one option that provides an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of residents of long-term care facilities. One of our volunteers was told by the family of a resident, “It is a good thing that you do and a service that is truly needed”

So what is an ombudsman?

Ombudsman (om’ budz’ man) noun: A person who investigates complaints, reports findings, and mediates fair settlements, especially between an individual consumer and an institution or organization. (Swedish for ‘citizen advocate’).

Ombudsmen exist in many areas, including government, military, educational and business institutions, but what’s a long-term care ombudsman? A certified long-term care ombudsman is a professionally trained and certified volunteer advocate who resolves issues with long-term care facilities on behalf of residents and their families.

What does a long-term care ombudsman do?

• Resolves complaints made by or for residents of long-term care facilities.

• Educates consumers and long-term care providers about residents’ rights and good care practices.

• Promotes community involvement through volunteer opportunities.

• Provides information to the public on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and services, residents’ rights and legislative and policy issues.

• Advocates for residents’ rights and quality care in nursing homes, personal care, residential care and other long-term care facilities.

• Promotes the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils.

What kinds of concerns does an ombudsman address?

• Violation of residents’ rights or dignity.

• Questions about quality of care.

• Improper transfer or discharge of patient.

• Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints.

• Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life.

What are residents’ rights?

• The right of citizenship. Nursing home residents do not lose any of their rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, to religious freedom and to associate with whom they choose.

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