DEFINITION of 'Long-Term Care Ombudsman '

A government official who oversees nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and is an expert in the laws and regulations that apply to them. A long-term care ombudsman regularly visits local facilities, investigates complaints, helps consumers select nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and advocates on behalf of their residents. Federal law requires the states to have this oversight and consumer advocacy program.

BREAKING DOWN 'Long-Term Care Ombudsman '

Because long-term care ombudsmen have firsthand experience with the facilities they’ve visited, these officials are a good source of information for consumers trying to select a nursing home or assisted living center. They can help you narrow down a list of facilities with excellent ratings to create a short list of homes you want to visit in person. They educate residents and their families about their rights as long-term care consumers. Along with investigating and helping to resolve specific complaints, long-term care ombudsmen also advocate in general for improvements in care and conditions in these facilities. These officials also help to form resident councils within facilities that keep residents involved in their own care and living conditions.

The types of complaints long-term care ombudsmen might need to address include undignified treatment, abuse, neglect, inadequate care and inappropriate discharge. Residents of long-term care facilities have the same rights as individuals living independently. Unfortunately, as numerous cases of elder abuse have shown, nursing homes and assisted living facilities don’t always respect these rights. Individuals don’t lose their privacy rights, personal property rights, right to be informed about and provide consent for medical care, or any other rights when they enter a long-term care facility. However, many residents of these facilities are incapacitated, disabled or have diminished mental or physical capacities, which makes them vulnerable to mistreatment. The ombudsman program is needed to help curb these abuses. Things Nursing Homes Are Not Allowed to Do can give you an idea of what can happen in a poorly run facility.


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