Ombudsmen are Well-Trained
In California and most other states, ombudsmen must go through an orientation which involves visiting skilled nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in their area. They also must take a 36 hour class, spend time in the field under supervision and receive state certification.
The Ombudsman Program is based on the concept that even the very elderly have the right to privacy, confidentiality, self-determination, dignity and respect. They have the right to have someone listen to their concerns and make sure their wishes are carried out. They also have the right to know that someone will take their complaints seriously and investigate accusations of abuse, neglect or theft.
There is a large need for volunteers who want to serve the elderly in their community as ombudsmen. In my small California county alone, Orange County, there are over 1,000 licensed long-term care facilities, and each one is likely to contain at least a few seniors who do not have anyone who can stand up for their rights.
What Services are Performed by Ombudsmen?
There are a number of ways in which an ombudsman is able to help the residents of a long-term care facility:
* Most importantly, they listen to residents, particularly their complaints
* They make frequent, unannounced visits to care facilities to evaluate what the day-to-day life is like in the facility
* They make sure the facilities are clean and well-maintained
* They confirm the food being served is appropriate for the patients' medical conditions
* They investigate suspected cases of physical and emotional abuse or neglect
* They investigate cases of lost or stolen personal belongings
* They confirm that medications are dispensed in a timely and correct manner
* They report suspected problems to licensing agencies
* They attend resident council meetings at the long-term care facilities
* They can help mediate disagreements between residents and their families or caregivers
* They can be a witness on an Advance Healthcare Directive so the final wishes of residents will be respected.
How to Get More Information
Whether you want to volunteer as an ombudsman in your community or you have a family member who might need the services of an ombudsman, you can get more information at:
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
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