Ombudsman Program Issues:
Ombudsman Program Chapter of the Older American’s Act – 1965 Amended6006 This is the federal law that created, mandates, and regulates the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs
What Is An Ombudsman?
As long ago as 1965, Congress recognized that people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities along with the friends and families who love them needed and still need an advocate whose only purpose is to advocate for their needs, wishes, desires, and rights. That was back in the time when nursing homes held minimal visiting hours and could lock their doors against friends and families alike at all other times. That was a time when serious consequences occurred behind those closed doors.
We’ve opened those doors now. In nursing homes at least, family members and close friends may visit people living in these facilities at any time of the day or night but the need for an official, paid staff of advocates whose primary and only purpose is to advocate for those living in these facilities is, if anything, even greater. We are now looking at a situation where many of our nursing homes and assisted living facilities are owned and run by major business conglomerates with vast legal departments, cadres of highly paid lobbyists, and powerful national and state associations tending to their best interests. These are businesses and businesses are not in business to provide great care, businesses of any kind or sort are in business to make a profit. The bottom line is the driving force.
In this complex long-term care world, the local long-term care ombudsman is often the only friend a person living in one of these facilities has. The ombudsman will
- advocate for the resident’s needs and wishes
- make facility residents and their friends and families aware of their rights and help them to defend them
- ensure proper care
- educate facility staff on various issues important to the people living in the facility
- prevent and report neglect, abuse, and other evidence of poor care
- inform local, state, and national decisionmakers of the impact their decisions will have on people who need long-term care services
Our National Ombudsman:
Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs. Administration on Aging
Our State Ombudsmen:
Maryland: Stevanne Ellis
Washington DC: Mark Miller