What is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program?
In California, the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, located within the California Department of Aging, has oversight responsibility for 35 local ombudsman programs throughout the state. The program provides valuable assistance to residents, their friends, families, providers, and the public in the resolution of quality of care and quality of life issues.
What Can an Ombudsman Do?
Staff and volunteers of the local programs identify, investigate, and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, residents. Regularly, the Ombudsman representative is called upon to navigate conflicts involving a resident’s expressed wish and the opposing views of the resident’s family, friends, or providers. The Ombudsman representative investigates complaints to determine whether they are verified, and works with residents to advocate for their expressed wishes and resolve the complaints to the satisfaction of the residents. Often, the Ombudsman acts as a mediator, confidential counselor, and educator to help resolve issues to the resident’s satisfaction.
The local Ombudsman is also an educational resource for long-term care staff. Program representatives offer training on residents’ rights, mandatory reporting procedures, and conflict resolution.
What is the History of the Program?
In 1971, following the establishment of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and the increase in number of skilled nursing facilities that followed, President Nixon called for the creation of a community-based program that would help residents resolve issues with the quality of care. The 1978 amendments to the Older Americans Act established the Nursing Home Ombudsman Program. In 1981, the program was expanded to include Assisted Living. Today, there is an Ombudsman Program in all 50 states.