What Is an Ombudsman for Nursing Home Abuse?
A nursing home ombudsman is a public official who works to resolve issues residents face. Residents can bring complaints or concerns to an ombudsman. It’s the ombudsman’s job to find solutions.
A nursing home ombudsman:
- Collects data regarding rates of elder abuse
- Creates family and citizen groups dedicated to ending elder abuse
- Explains residents’ rights
- Helps seniors file complaints with other agencies (like Medicare/Medicaid) if needed
- Holds caregivers (like nursing home staff) accountable for elder abuse or neglect
- Investigates claims of elder abuse
- Listens to victims and families who have suffered abuse
- Works with law enforcement and other agencies to bring abusers to justice
If you or a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, talking to an ombudsman is a wise step to take.
What Does an Ombudsman Do in a Nursing Home?
Ombudsmen do many things to protect older people against nursing home abuse. Learn about some of the actions ombudsmen take below.
Working With Residents and Families
An ombudsman can check in with nursing home residents and address any issues or concerns.
Complaints can range from the quality of food to possible cases of nursing home neglect or abuse.
Ombudsmen can also work with the family members of older residents who cannot speak up for themselves due to dementia or other disabilities.
All complaints an ombudsman receives are kept confidential unless the resident or family gives permission otherwise. This means issues can be addressed without fear of staff retaliation.
Holding Abusive Nursing Homes Responsible
After receiving a complaint, an ombudsman can take steps to solve problems. This includes reporting nursing home abuse to administrators or legal channels.
By reporting cases of abuse, ombudsmen can bring about change in how nursing homes operate, improve residents’ quality of life, and stop elder abuse.
For example, a facility might fire abusive staff and create new rules to keep residents safe after an ombudsman explains that residents are being abused.
Ombudsman may also recommend legal options to protect residents that are suffering.
Improving Elder Care
Beyond addressing individual complaints, ombudsmen also want to improve the quality of care all elders receive in nursing homes. They do this by visiting nursing homes and making suggestions to help residents.
“Our bread and butter, what we do every day, is visit facilities, talk and meet with residents, get to know them, build trust and rapport with them, then gather information as to what their concerns are about.”
– Patricia Hunter, MSW
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
By visiting a nursing home, ombudsmen may improve the standard of care since staff know they are being monitored by a third party. Ombudsmen can also look for possible signs of nursing home abuse and neglect during these visits.
Further, an ombudsman can inform residents of their rights as they live in a nursing home and help families create care plans.
Working With Government Agencies
Nursing home ombudsmen programs are run by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
Because of this, an ombudsman works closely with government departments at the local, state, and national levels to keep older people safe.
All ombudsmen in care homes and assisted living facilities enter their records from each visit into the National Ombudsman Reporting System.
This system holds data regarding:
- How many facilities have been visited
- How many hours have been spent in each facility
- What kinds of complaints have been handled or resolved
As part of their reports, ombudsmen note which complaints are common, which ones are the most severe, and where elder care falls short in facilities.
The data that ombudsmen collect helps government officials address systemic issues that affect older people across the country.
When Is a Nursing Home Ombudsman Used?
Residents and families may need to work with an ombudsman if they can’t solve issues by working directly with staff or administrators.
“No question is too big or small. The beauty of the ombudsman program is that we’re a jack of all trades.”
– Patricia Hunter, MSW,
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
If the care facility does not resolve a problem, residents or loved ones can contact the AoA. The AoA will then assign an ombudsman to help the resident.
If you want legal help after a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse, call us today at (855) 264-6310.
How Do I Contact My Local Nursing Home Ombudsman?
You can contact ombudsmen in your area through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center’s list of ombudsmen at the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
This site provides names, phone numbers, and addresses for ombudsmen in every state.
Working With Ombudsmen in Nursing Homes
Nursing home ombudsmen assist residents who have suffered elder abuse or neglect. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a nursing home, reach out to an ombudsman now to get help.
Nursing home ombudsmen may also recommend legal aid if abuse or neglect has occurred.
By taking taking legal action, your family can:
- Find closure after nursing home abuse or neglect
- Get financial compensation for health care costs and other expenses
- Hold abusive facility staff and other care providers accountable
Get a free legal case review to start the process.
Nursing Home Ombudsman FAQ
What is an ombusdman's role in preventing elder abuse?
Ombudsmen play a key role in preventing elder abuse.
Nursing home ombudsmen work to improve the care that facilities provide so no resident suffers. They can also listen to complaints of possible abuse or neglect and address them before the problem worsens.
According to data from 2017, nursing home ombudsmen:
- Resolved over 201,000 complaints from residents or family members
- Resolved 73% of complaints to full or partial satisfaction of residents
- Provided information and aid to over 402,000 people
- Provided over 127,000 consultations to long-term care facility managers, staff, and volunteers
- Visited 68% of all nursing homes to help residents, train staff, and inform residents about their rights
When were nursing home ombudsman programs created?
The national U.S. Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman program was established in 1972.
This program operates as part of the Older Americans Act (OAA). This act was signed into law in 1965 to protect older Americans. The OAA also authorized the creation of the AoA, which currently funds state ombudsmen offices.
Over 1,300 full-time staff members and nearly 6,000 volunteer ombudsmen work across the country as part of the program.
Does every state have an ombudsman program?
Yes. Each state has its own long-term care ombudsman office, as do Guam, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
An official ombudsman for each state oversees staff and volunteers who work to improve the care that residents receive.
What can I do after contacting a nursing home ombudsman?
After contacting an ombudsman for elder abuse, you may also want to connect with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
These attorneys can help you and your family pursue financial compensation after nursing home abuse or neglect has been committed.
Learn more about your legal options with a free case review today.