Oct 24

Long Term Care Ombudsman: When should I be contacting them?

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by Erin C. Eurenius, Esq, CPA

You receive a shocking phone call that your loved one has bruising along the side of her face and a large lump at the temple. The nursing administrator of your loved one’s long term care facility tells you not to be alarmed. What? How could this have happened? You are told on the phone that even though two aides were assisting with a shower they both let go at the same time. Your loved one slipped and hit her head in the shower. The administrator assures you they are looking into the matter and will make changes accordingly. As you ponder what to do to ensure your loved one’s safety, get help from your region’s Long Term Care Ombudsman.

A Long Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. The Older Americans Act requires that every state have an Ombudsman Program that address complaints and advocates for improvements in facilities. The services of an Ombudsman are free to residents. The programs are funded from a variety of sources. The regional Ombudsman program for Cuyahoga county is supported by Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, nursing home bed fees, Cleveland area foundations, and individuals.

According to The National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, the Ombudsman is responsible for:

  • Educating residents, their family and facility staff about residents’ rights, good care practices, and similar long-term services and supports resources;
  • Ensuring residents have regular and timely access to ombudsman services;
  • Providing technical support for the development of resident and family councils;
  • Advocating for changes to improve residents’ quality of life and care;
  • Providing information to the public regarding long-term care facilities and services, residents’ rights, and legislative and policy issues;
  • Representing resident interests before governmental agencies; and
  • Seeking legal, administrative and other remedies to protect residents.

Nursing home residents have rights protected by the law. Ohio Revised Code Section 3721.13 outlines the rights of nursing home and residential care facility residents for all Ohioans. Examples of such  rights that are protected include the right to a safe and clean living environment, the right to be free from physical, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse and to be treated with courtesy, respect and full recognition of dignity, and the right to receive, send, and mail sealed, unopened correspondence. Ombudsman can investigate and help resolve complaints that are brought forward to them. They do not fulfill the role that adult protective services has and therefore they do not collect evidence to be used for criminal purposes. While the Ombudsman can assist in cases where personal injury has occurred, they can also assist with other issues the resident may be facing. In Ohio, the Ombudsman also can assist with questions and case management issues for My Care Ohio.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman’s contact information should be readily posted in any residential care facility. Do not hesitate to contact the Ombudsman for your loved one.

For additional information please visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VRmetXQVEY&feature=youtu.be – Informational video on the role of the Ombudsman.

http://www.ltco.org/home1.aspx – Region 10a – Cleveland Area – Regional Long-term Care Ombudsman Program – Serving Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina Counties.