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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Advocates /  Editorial List

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After reading your article about hospital advocates, I thought I would write to you about another extremely valuable advocacy program which is available in every state. This is the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. This program was created under the federal Older Americans Act and addresses complaints and provides advocacy and support for each resident in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen are trained to provide information and assistance to residents and their families in an effort to ensure the best quality of life possible for residents. They are also trained to resolve conflicts and provide education regarding residents' rights. Often families of residents, as well as residents themselves, don't realize they have rights. Residents retain all the rights they have as citizens and this is guaranteed by law. I have always felt that some of the guilt most caregivers feel when they are faced with placing their loved one in a facility could be lessened if the families believed that their caregiving role doesn't end when their loved one enters a facility. In fact, I believe their role as caregiver increases because they now become "care managers" to insure their loved one receives the best care possible.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman is an invaluable resource in obtaining that goal and I highly encourage families of residents to contact their Local Ombudsman. Contact information about the Ombudsman Program must be posted in every facility and made available to residents and families.

This program is also an excellent resource to assist families when considering a facility for their loved one. Information about this program is available in every state on the Internet and should be accessible on each state's website or contact your local Agency on Aging office for more information.

Joyce Schmitz, Long Term Care Ombudsman, Polson, MT

Thanks Joyce, I couldnít have said it better myself. I am a big fan of the ombudsman program and talk about it as a resource every chance I get.

Find out more about the Long Term Care Ombudsman program


Gary Barg

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