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Austin, TX 78744

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In the News

A closer look: CAPCOG’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Monday, January 06, 2014

"Ombudsman" might mean "citizen representative," but some may consider it a longer word for "hero." Here's a closer look at CAPCOG's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which provides advocacy and friendly support for individuals living in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

Ombudsmen investigate complaints made by residents, their families, or any other concerned party. They then work with complainants and facility staff to achieve resolutions. They can help one person resolve a problem, address issues that affect several residents or work to change a systemic problem. Their work takes many forms:

  • Handling complaints — Ombudsmen support residents and families to resolve any problems or differences with the facility staff by defining concerns, explaining rights and identifying possible courses of action. An ombudsman can help resolve the problem in most cases, but complaints involving serious abuse or neglect are referred to the appropriate agency. In all situations, confidentiality is maintained and no information is released without the resident or legal guardian’s permission. ?
  • Providing information — Ombudsmen are a good source of information about selecting a long-term care facility, including guiding callers to CAPCOG’s website for links to maps of both nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the region and to federal and state quality ratings. ?
  • Advocating system and legislative changes — State and regional ombudsman programs work cooperatively with other advocacy organizations to recommend legislation and regulatory changes that affect older Texans.

The sheer volume of facilities in the CAPCOG region, including 77 nursing homes with a total capacity of 8,400 beds and 122 licensed assisted living communities representing about 3,638 beds, demonstrates the high need for this advocacy service.

CAPCOG’s Ombudsman Program includes three staff members and approximately 40 trained and certified volunteers who routinely visit facilities throughout the region. With the program’s aim to advocate for resident rights, quality of life and good resident care, staff attend resident and family council meetings and care-plan meetings. They help ensure residents are not inappropriately discharged and help train facility employees on resident rights issues.

In addition, ombudsmen help ensure that Medicaid-funded residents who have expressed the desire to move back home or to a less restrictive environment are provided the opportunity for referral to the Money Follows the Person program, a federal initiative in which many states participate.

> Learn more about the Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program
> Discover other AAA services

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