Contact Your Area’s Ombudsman for Care Concerns

Nursing home residents and their families have a powerful advocate on their side, in the North Carolina Ombudsman Program.

North Carolina’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program consists of state and regional ombudsmen who help residents of long-term care facilities to exercise their rights. In addition advocating for residents, ombudsmen educate the public and facility staff about residents rights. They help resolve grievances between residents/families and facilities. These regional ombudsmen are located within the local Area Agencies on Aging.

The services provided by the Ombudsman Program include:

Disagreements with nursing homes arise in various contexts, including the quality of food, troublesome roommates, lack of privacy, or services not meeting what was promised. Often the first step is to speak with the nursing home staff member and then working up through supervisors and administrators. Many disputes can be satisfactorily resolved in this way. But if not, your next step should be to contact the local ombudsman assigned to the nursing home.

An ombudsman does not work for the nursing home. Instead, the ombudsman’s job is funded through the government, and he or she is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, adult care homes (including assisted living facilities). Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state must have an ombudsman program to address residents’ complaints and to advocate for improvements in the long-term care system. Ombudsmen do not have authority to require action by a facility, but as they are familiar with the system and they are trained to spot issues and resolve complaints and concerns. They have the responsibility to negotiate on a resident’s behalf and to work with other state agencies for effective enforcement.

Every statewide program is usually composed of several regional or local ombudsman programs that operate within an Area Agency on Aging or other community organization. To find the ombudsman nearest you, contact the ombudsman office in your state, which can be found here.

Article source and reference for further information:  North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services Ombudsman Program.