Have you ever heard the term “ombudsman” and wondered what it meant?

The name ombudsman is a Swedish word and literally means “representative.” In essence, an ombudsman is someone who helps individuals or groups resolve conflicts or concerns.

You may hear this position referred to in other similar terms including “ombudsperson,” “ombuds,” and others. Ombudsmen work with various organizations including corporations, colleges and universities, government agencies, hospitals, and medical facilities.

Though some ombudsmen are appointed to represent public concerns, an advocate ombudsman is one who advocates for a designated population, such as patients in a long term care facility.

In assisted living or nursing home facilities, patients and families can benefit from an extra voice to help solve problems. Ombudsmen make sure issues get resolved while providing information on the care facility and resident rights.

What Exactly Do Long Term Care Ombudsmen Do?

A long term care ombudsman is trained to investigate and resolve complaints about long term care facilities. These advocates help residents and families by:

  • Informing residents about their rights.
  • Empowering residents to discuss concerns with staff.
  • Listening to resident complaints and working through issues or concerns. Issues may include accusations of abuse, violation of rights, inadequate care, slow response time, refusal of services, violation of dignity, and more.
  • Investigating complaints in detail.
  • Aiming to resolve the problem or issue by working with the resident and facility staff.
  • Notify applicable agencies if needed.

Ombudsmen are a resource for patients and families by providing information on resident rights including how to handle issues before they become a serious problem. They help by answering questions about facility procedures, payment, and explaining resident contracts.

Tips for Getting Good Care

An advocate can help make sure you receive good care, but it’s important to know your rights.

  • Tell a facility staff member about concerns as soon as possible and make sure to follow up with the appropriate staff.
  • Understand the contract, admission agreement, resident handbook, and facility policies. If you don’t understand something, ask questions.
  • Understand the care planning process and request a care plan meeting with your ombudsman if you need help.
  • Stay in close communication with family members and make them aware of your care and activities at a facility.
  • Speak with your doctor about concerns with medical care.
  • Talk to your ombudsman when they visit.

How to Locate a Long Term Care Ombudsman

There are several ways to find an ombudsman. You can search for poster information for an LTC ombudsman in your facility or ask a staff member who your ombudsman is and how to reach them.

In addition, each state has an ombudsman dedicated to serving long term care patients and families. If you have concerns about long term care and need help, you can search for an ombudsman online through the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care.

LTC Consumer is an independent, free online service to help consumers understand what long term care insurance is, how it works, and how to evaluate coverage options. Our mission is to provide an educational, no-pressure resource for learning about long term care planning, with the opportunity to speak with specialists who can help them.