Monday, August 13, 2007

Just What does Ombudsman mean?


Ombudsman is a Swedish term for an advocate interested in justice in affairs between the government and its citizens. The meaning has expanded to include others who advocate.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program was established in every state through the Older Americans Act of 1978. The mission of the program is to protect residents' rights and improve the quality of care and life for residents in long-term care facilities by providing access and advocacy services that assist residents in protecting their health, safety, welfare and rights.

Q. What do you do as a Long Term Care Ombudsman? "I provide general information about long-term care issues. I receive and attempt to resolve complaints made by long-term care residents and other interested parties. I provide public records about nursing homes and adult care homes. I help explain resident rights in nursing homes and adult care homes and offer education about rights, resident and family councils and grievance procedures. I also provide training and education for staff at facilities and provide assistance and training for the volunteer adult care and nursing home community advisory committees."

Q. What are some common issues you assist with? "When a person is about to be discharged from the hospital and is in need of facility placement, that person or often a family member will ask where to begin the search. I make them aware of the facilities and their ratings that are public record and the search tool Compare Nursing Homes in Your Area on the Medicare Web site

Q. What is the Volunteer Community Advisory Committee? "There are two advisory committees: the Nursing Home Advisory Committee and the Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee.

"Committee members make regular, friendly visits to facilities and promote community involvement. They are the link between the community and the facility. This is the most involved volunteer work I am aware of. Currently there are openings in the Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee, and interested people should contact me."

Laurie Abounader, an ombudsman with Centralina Area Agency on Aging, shared a question often asked about her job title.She also can be contacted at 800-508-5777.

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