Seniors Agencies and Associations
Long-term care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. They are trained to resolve problems. If you want, the Ombudsman can assist you with complaints. However, unless you give the Ombudsman permission to share your concerns, these matters are kept confidential. Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system.
The Ombudsman program is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA)/Administration for Community Living (ACL). The network has 6,163 volunteers certified to handle complaints and 1,297 paid staff. Most state Ombudsman programs are housed in their State Unit on Aging. Nationally, in 2018 the Ombudsman program investigated over 194,516 complaints and provided information on long-term care to another 409,311 people.
Visit the ACL website for more information.
Whether through individual contact with residents or systemic advocacy, Ombudsmen make a difference in the lives of residents in long-term care facilities everyday.
A Long-Term Care Ombudsman:
- Resolves complaints made by or for residents of long-term care facilities
- Educates consumers and long-term care providers about residents' rights and good care practices
- Promotes community involvement through volunteer opportunities
- Provides information to the public on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and services, residents' rights and legislative and policy issues
- Advocates for residents' rights and quality care in nursing homes, personal care, residential care and other long-term care facilities
- Promotes the development of citizen organizations, family councils and resident councils
- Long-term care Ombudsmen efforts are summarized in the National Ombudsman Reporting System (Click here for current NORS data) to include the number of facilities visited, the types of complaints handled and the kinds of complaints filed with Ombudsmen. Data has been collected since 1996 and gives a good picture of the extent of ombudsman activities nationally and in every state.
The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center provides support, technical assistance and training to the 53 State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs and their statewide networks of over 500 local Ombudsman entities. The Center's objectives are to enhance the skills, knowledge, and management capacity of the State programs to enable them to handle residents' complaints and represent resident interests in both individual and systems advocacy. Funded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Center is operated by Consumer Voice, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, in cooperation with the ADvancing States.
All tasks undertaken by the Center are designed and developed with input from Ombudsman programs, the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen (NASOP), the National Association of Local Long Term Care Ombudsmen (NALLTCO), and other relevant organizations to ensure that the needs of ombudsman programs across the country are being addressed. These tasks are developed with the understanding that in supporting Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs, the Center is ultimately contributing to the improvement of the quality of life and care of frail, vulnerable residents in long-term care facilities. The Center engages in the following activities and services:
- Provides consultation, information, and referral for Ombudsman programs and for the residents, families and others who use ombudsman services;
- Provides training opportunities and training resources for Ombudsman programs;
- Promotes public awareness of the role of the Ombudsman programs in long-term care;
- Works to improve Ombudsman program effectiveness in meeting the needs of residents, including those served by managed care organizations and those in alternative settings, such as Medicaid waiver programs;
- Identifies research needs and promotes research on issues which affect the ombudsman programs or their constituents;
- Supports the ombudsman volunteer component through work with AARP and other national or state-wide efforts to recruit volunteers for the program;
- Works cooperatively with all organizations and agencies which have as their mission the protection of the frail elderly who reside in long-term care settings and
- Promotes understanding and cooperation between ombudsman programs and citizen advocacy groups.