What Is a Nursing Home Ombudsman?
A nursing home ombudsman — also called a long-term care (LTC) ombudsman — is someone who handles complaints against nursing homes and other care facilities. An ombudsman for nursing homes works to resolve problems related to residents’ health, safety, welfare, and rights.
In 2021, almost 20% of the complaints the nursing home ombudsman programs handled involved abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
If you are worried about a resident’s well-being, a nursing home ombudsman may be able to assist you.
Download our FREE Nursing Home Abuse Handbook to learn what you can do to help your loved one.
What Does an Ombudsman for Nursing Homes Do?
A nursing home ombudsman handles any complaints a resident or their loved ones may have. The ombudsman will try to resolve issues and make sure residents are getting the best care possible.
The role of an ombudsman in nursing home settings includes:
- Addressing systemic issues within nursing homes that affect caregiving
- Advocating for resident rights and quality care
- Educating staff on residents’ rights and good care practices
- Encouraging the creation of resident/family councils and citizen organizations
- Investigating suspected nursing home neglect
- Promoting community involvement with volunteer opportunities
- Providing information to the public about nursing homes
- Reporting nursing home abuse
- Resolving resident quality-of-life complaints
- Working with government and law enforcement during investigations
How a Nursing Home Ombudsman Helps Improve Care
An ombudsman for nursing homes can do many things to help residents get the care they need. This could include teaching residents about their rights and taking action when residents are concerned.
According to a 2021 annual report, ombudsman nursing home programs:
- Operated 425 local ombudsman centers
- Conducted over 150,000 facility visits
- Visited almost 78% of nursing homes at least once
- Resolved over 164,000 nursing home complaints
- Budgeted over $126 million
Below, learn how an ombudsman for nursing homes works to protect residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other care homes.
Holding Facilities Accountable
An ombudsman in nursing homes helps hold nursing facilities and care providers accountable when abuse takes place.
Tragically, nursing home residents were some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. When family and friends could not visit their loved ones, nursing homes and their staff members were not monitored as they had been pre-pandemic.
An ombudsman for nursing homes can see if residents are getting the highest quality care possible by visiting facilities and looking for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Residents and loved ones can also work with the nursing home ombudsman to address any issues related to their care. This may include reporting severe nursing home abuse or neglect to local law enforcement and getting the victim medical treatment.
Have you noticed signs of nursing home abuse? Contact us today by calling (800) 896-7040.
Advocating for Residents With Ombudsman Nursing Home Services
With the help of an ombudsman nursing home advocate, residents can better understand their rights and make sure they know how to exercise them.
Nursing home residents’ rights were outlined and protected as part of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. This legislation sought to improve the care people receive in long-term care facilities.
The rights of nursing home residents include:
- Care: Residents have a right to equal care without discrimination.
- Dignity: Residents should be treated as honored guests.
- Expression: Residents have a right to exercise their rights without retaliation.
- Housing: Residents cannot be discharged without following proper standards.
- Personal property: Residents have a right to possess property and manage their own affairs.
- Privacy: Residents have a right to personal privacy as well as accessibility and privacy of information.
- Safety: Residents have a right to be free from abuse.
A nursing home ombudsman may act as a point of contact for residents and their families to address any needs or concerns.
By doing so, an ombudsman for nursing homes can prevent residents from feeling isolated in the face of mistreatment.
Ombudsman Nursing Home Services for Complaint Resolution
Residents of long-term care homes (or their loved ones) can report complaints to an ombudsman for nursing homes, who will work to get them resolved.
“In 2019, the Ombudsman program investigated over 198,502 complaints and provided information on long-term care to another 425,084 people.”
—National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
Complaints made to an ombudsman nursing home program are handled confidentially, so residents don’t have to worry about staff retaliation.
A nursing home ombudsman can handle complaints related to:
- Falls and fractures
- Lack of health care for disabilities or illnesses
- Medication errors
- Neglect or mistreatment
- Physical abuse and nursing home injuries
- Poor food quality
- Sexual assaults
- Unanswered requests for help
- Verbal and emotional abuse by facility staff
- Wrongful eviction
Further if your loved one has suffered at the hands of a negligent nursing home, your family may also have legal options.
Find out now with a free case review.
Ombudsman Nursing Home Collaboration with Government
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico each have an LTC ombudsman program (LTCOP) to improve care at the local and national levels.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and Administration on Aging (AoA) run the United States Ombudsman nursing home programs, employing over 1,400 staff and 4,000 volunteers. One of the prime responsibilities is making site visits to care homes.
Following site visits, local ombudsman nursing home advocates add their notes into the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS). They may also report their findings to local, state, Department of Health, and federal government officials.
By collecting data on nursing home neglect and abuse, complaints can be organized based on frequency and severity. They’ll also highlight aspects of care that need improvement.
Get Help From a Nursing Home Ombudsman
An ombudsman nursing home advocate can address complaints and work to resolve them.
Visit the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center to find the contact information for a nursing home ombudsman in your state.
An ombudsman can help you and your family address cases of nursing home neglect and abuse, but there are many other resources available, too.
Connect with our team to find legal and financial resources if you or a loved one suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect. Get a free legal case review now to start the process.
Ombudsman Nursing Home Services FAQs
What is an ombudsman in a nursing home?
An ombudsman is someone who looks into complaints and helps resolve them. In a nursing home or other long-term care (LTC) setting, an LTC ombudsman addresses the needs of older adults and their families. This includes anything from food quality to reports of abuse or neglect.
When were nursing home ombudsman programs created?
State nursing home ombudsman programs were created under 1978 amendments to the Older Americans Act. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is run by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Administration on Aging (AoA).
What does an ombudsman typically do?
A nursing home ombudsman addresses complaints in nursing homes, advocates for resident rights, ensures quality care, educates staff, and works to resolve issues related to residents’ health, safety, and welfare.
Ombudsman nursing home programs play a vital role in improving care within long-term care facilities.
Who is the ombudsman for nursing homes?
Each state has an Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, according to a fact sheet published by the National Center on Elder Abuse. These offices are led by a full-time nursing home ombudsman who is responsible for overseeing the long-term care programs within their respective states.
Nationwide, almost 1,400 paid staff and 4,000 volunteers are certified to handle long-term care complaints.
To find your local ombudsman, search the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
What powers does an ombudsman for nursing homes have?
A nursing home ombudsman can address resident needs, handle cases of abuse or neglect confidentially, inform about residents’ rights, assist in forming resident or family councils, and use legal means to safeguard residents when necessary.
If you or a loved one was harmed in a nursing home, make sure to speak with an ombudsman promptly to get the help you need.