Opening the door for ombudsmen

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


Opening the door for ombudsmen

Last week during a talk at the Pennsylvania Department of Aging 2017 Ombudsman Conference, audience members told me that they’re having difficulty speaking to administrators and other senior staff when they visit the facilities. In fact, some people reported that the administrators close their office doors when they find out the ombudsman is in the building!

While I can imagine from an administrator’s point of view that an unexpected interruption from someone complaining about problems is not exactly a welcome visit, perhaps there’s a way to shift the relationship to mutual advantage.

In fact, ombudsmen may be able to use their resources to help you solve problems within your facility.

Their role

Long-term care ombudsmen act as advocates for residents to address problems and to facilitate quality care. According to The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, ombudsmen promote “the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils.” Ombudsmen and the councils can identify areas of potential improvement and, if properly guided, can offer solutions and assistance.

Local ombudsman’s offices have, for example, sponsored training programs on culture change and invited facility staff free of charge. Ombudsmen have arranged trips for staff to visit nearby Green Houses and provided free staff training on various resident care matters.

Pennsylvania’s Ombudsman Program is very active in promoting resident participation. Their ombudsman-trained PEERs (Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents) focus on improving the quality of life for residents. PEER efforts include initiating activities in which elders have the opportunity to assist others, such as a program making blankets for the homeless. That would make a nice mention during the prospective resident tour, don’t you think?

Ombudsman contact tips

While it’s likely that your ombudsman will be sharing resident complaints with you, it’s better to hear about these problems from them than from a state surveyor. Consider the following methods to improve your working relationship and to enhance resident care:

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Opening the door for ombudsmen

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