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Nursing Home Ombudsman

Find Out How an Ombudsman Can Help

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If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse, an ombudsman may be able to help. An ombudsman for nursing homes protects seniors’ rights, stops and prevents abuse, and holds abusive staff accountable. Each state and most U.S. territories have an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. These offices have long-term care local ombudsman programs in place to help protect the well-being of nursing home residents.

What Is an Ombudsman for Nursing Home Abuse?

A nursing home ombudsman — also known as a long-term care ombudsman (LTC ombudsman) — is a public official who works to resolve resident issues in nursing facilities. Residents can bring complaints or concerns to an ombudsman, who will then work to find solutions on their behalf.

Nursing home ombudsman helps elderly woman with her paperwork

Nursing home ombudsman services include:

  • Collecting data on elder abuse rates
  • Creating family council and citizen advocacy groups dedicated to ending elder abuse
  • Explaining the rights of residents to ensure good care
  • Helping seniors file complaints with other agencies (like Medicare/Medicaid) if needed
  • Holding caregivers (like nursing home staff) accountable for elder abuse or neglect
  • Investigating claims of elder abuse against residents of long-term care facilities
  • Listening to victims and families who have suffered abuse
  • Organizing volunteer events to protect older adults
  • Producing an annual report of program activities
  • Working with law enforcement, the local department of health, and other area agencies

Talking to an ombudsman is a wise step if you or a loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect.

What Does an Ombudsman Do in a Nursing Home?

Ombudsman nursing home programs do many things to protect older people against nursing home abuse.

According to data from 2017, ombudsman nursing home programs:

  • Resolved over 201,000 complaints from residents and 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 of their rights

Learn more about ombudsman nursing home services 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 food quality to possible cases of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Ombudsmen can create accessibility for family members of older residents who cannot speak up for themselves due to dementia or other disabilities.

All complaints an ombudsman receives are confidential unless the resident or family member gives permission otherwise. This means issues can be addressed without fear of staff retaliation.

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Holding Abusive Nursing Homes Responsible

After receiving a complaint, an ombudsman can take concrete steps to solve residents’ problems. This includes reporting nursing home abuse to administrators or the proper legal channels.

“Federal law gives each nursing home resident the right to quality care and quality of life. This includes freedom from neglect, abuse, exploitation, and misappropriation of property.”

– The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Fact Sheet

By reporting cases of abuse, ombudsman nursing home advocates can help change 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.

The ombudsman may also recommend legal options to protect residents who are suffering.

Improving Elder Care Through Ombudsman Nursing Home Services

Beyond addressing individual complaints, ombudsmen also 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
Nursing Home Ombudsman

By visiting a nursing home, ombudsmen may improve the standard of care since staff members know they are being monitored by a third party. During these visits, ombudsmen can also look for possible signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Further, an ombudsman can inform residents of their rights while they live in a nursing home and help families create care plans.

Working With Government Agencies

Nursing home ombudsman programs are run by the national Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

Because of this, an ombudsman must work 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 (NORS).

This system stores data on:

  • 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 specific 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 nursing home 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,
Nursing Home Ombudsman

If the care facility does not resolve the problem, residents or loved ones can contact the AoA. The AoA will then assign an ombudsman to help the resident.

Call us today at (855) 264-6310, if you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse.

How Do I Contact My Local Nursing Home Ombudsman?

You can find contact information for an ombudsman for assisted living in your area through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center’s list of ombudsmen.

This site provides names, phone numbers, and addresses for every state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP).

How to Get Help From a Nursing Home Ombudsman

You can contact your local office to get help from an ombudsman nursing home program. A staff member or volunteer can help advocate for residents who have suffered elder abuse or neglect. They can also help investigate the situation.

However, for more urgent matters, you may wish to contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) office. You should always call 911 in any emergency.

In situations of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be able to seek legal assistance from a skilled nursing home abuse lawyer instead.

By 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 nursing facility staff and other care providers accountable

Get a free legal case review to start the process.

Nursing Home Ombudsman FAQ

What is an ombudsman for the elderly?

An ombudsman for elderly people is a human services advocate who works to resolve problems related to the rights and welfare of people living in nursing homes, assisted living residences, and other care facilities.

What is an ombudsman'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 to prevent residents from suffering. They can also listen to complaints of possible abuse or neglect and address them before the problem worsens.

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 this 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 residents’ care.

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 may be able to 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 right now.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

View 8 Sources
  1. Administration for Community Living. (n.d.). Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://acl.gov/programs/Protecting-Rights-and-Preventing-Abuse/Long-term-Care-Ombudsman-Program
  2. National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.). Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: What You Must Know. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://ltcombudsman.org/uploads/files/library/long-term-care-ombudsman-program-what-you-must-know.pdf
  3. National Consumer Voice. (n.d.). Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Data. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://ltcombudsman.org/omb_support/nors/nors-data
  4. National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. (n.d.). About ombudsman program. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://ltcombudsman.org/about/about-ombudsman
  5. Paulin, E. (2020, May 01). Nursing Home Complaint? Call Your Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/health/info-2020/long-term-care-complaints-ombudsman.html
  6. Programs for Elderly. (n.d.). LONG-TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM. Retrieved March 03, 2021, from http://www.programsforelderly.com/abuse-long-term-care-ombudsman.php
  7. Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (Director). (n.d.). What is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman? [Video file]. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VRmetXQVEY&feature=emb_title
  8. Utah Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Long-term care ombudsman. Retrieved March 03, 2021, from https://daas.utah.gov/long-term-care-ombudsman/