Long Term Care Ombudsmen

By Sally Carter10 volunteer_nsghome

Many people have never heard of Long Term Care Ombudsmen, but every state has them to protect the rights, needs, and dignity of adults living in licensed long term care facilities (nursing, assisted living, residential care, memory care and adult foster care homes). Oregon’s Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman uses volunteers, trained and supervised by a small Salem staff; their work is free and confidential.

For example: An Oregon woman learned her assisted living facility had been charging her monthly for laundry service and help putting on special stockings, when she’d always done both tasks by herself. Management wouldn’t correct her bills, so she contacted the certified ombudsman volunteer assigned to the facility, who worked with the woman, her family, and the administrator until the bills were corrected and over $3,000 repaid.

A man’s wife had been left in a nursing home’s malfunctioning Hoyer lift (used to move her in and out of bed) because the lone staffer that night wasn’t strong enough to work the override switch. So he contacted the ombudsman volunteer assigned there, who persisted until the administrator agreed to assign enough staff each shift to ensure safe use of the lift.

Residents’ concerns range from lukewarm coffee to more serious issues (such as physical abuse, life-threatening medication errors, threatened eviction, or attempts to disregard their civil rights) which can have profound effects on their well-being. Unfortunately, Washington County currently has just 16 volunteers to cover its 325 licensed long-term care facilities.

For more information or to volunteer, see www.oregon.gov/LTCO or call 1-800-522-2602