Long-Term Care Ombudsman

October 13, 2020

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What is a long-term care ombudsman?

A long-term care ombudsman advocates and settles complaints for residents in long-term care facilities. The ombudsman is usually a volunteer trained to manage a resident’s complaints or concerns about the long- term care provider or their staff.

What is a long-term care ombudsman program?

The long-term care (LTC) ombudsman program is authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA).

  • Each state office has a full-time LTC Ombudsman who manages the statewide program.
  • Ombudsmen serve the needs of individuals and advocate for system-wide improvements.
    • They represent the needs of people like your loved one with state agencies and committees.
    • They help to write laws and procedures to protect the health, safety, and interests of people living in LTC settings.
    • They make sure that people like your loved one have timely access to their services.

Each state has a program that prepares volunteers to:

  • Provide information about finding a facility for your loved one.
  • Help you identify and locate quality care.
  • Work with you on resolving your loved one’s complaints about the facility where they live or are receiving care.

What is the role of an ombudsman in a long-term care facility?

The role of an ombudsman can affect care within a facility. This can include enriching life within a facility by involving the community. The ombudsman does this by:

  • Working to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents like your loved one.
  • Educating long-term care staff:
    • About resident rights and the role of the ombudsman.
    • How to provide good care.
  • Offering information for you and others in your community about:
    • Identifying quality care, or knowing when there is a concern with your loved one’s care.
    • Becoming part of a facility’s family council.
    • Promoting community interest in being part of LTC activities.
    • Residents’ rights and state laws for LTC facilities.
  • Advocating for changes that improve quality of care and life for residents like your loved one. This may include:
    • Promoting individual and group activities within a facility.
    • Encouraging an increase in healthy snacks.
    • Assuring that a resident and family council group has input on safety policies.

How to contact my state’s long-term care ombudsman program?

Each state’s LTC ombudsman program welcomes your call or email. You may get contact information for the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) in your loved one’s state through the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

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