North Shore Elder Services’ Ombudsman program has again met the Designation requirements by the Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman. With the re-designation, NSES meets the requirements to host and support the local Ombudsman program for the North Shore, Mystic Valley, and Chelsea/Revere/Winthrop areas.
What is an Ombudsman?
Firstly, the word Ombudsman is of Swedish origin meaning representative of the people.
The Ombudsman provides a means for persons in long-term care facilities to voice their problems and concerns and have their complaints addressed. The Ombudsman acts as an advocate for residents of a nursing home. The program is mandated by state and federal law and funded by the Older Americans Act through the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
The program at NSES is one of twenty-one Ombudsman programs in the state. Our program is the third largest. The Ombudsman advocates for residents in fourteen cities and towns spanning Essex, Middlesex, and Suffolk counties. During this past fiscal year, program staff and Ombudsman Volunteers made regular visits to forty-one long-term care facilities, accounting for over 74,000 resident contacts.
Ombudsmen counseled residents, empowering them and at the same time informing them they would intervene on their behalf if requested. Ombudsmen further reinforced residents’ rights with presentations at resident council meetings and in-service trainings for facility staff about abuse, mistreatment, neglect, and misappropriation. Through its ongoing presence, the Ombudsman Program provides elders with a valuable resource in long term care facilities.
Daily Caring (www.dailycaring.com) describes seven common issues that ombudsmen help with and signs that they might be happening to your older adult.
- Physical, verbal, or mental abuse
Signs: unexplained bruises and injuries, fear of staff, increased agitation or depression
- Being deprived of services needed to maintain residents’ physical and mental health
Signs: rapid weight loss, dehydration, pressure sores
- Unreasonable confinement
Signs: never able to leave the room, being ignored
- Poor quality of care
Signs: falls or injuries, infrequent diaper changes, lack of bathing, call buttons don’t get answered
- Improper transfer or discharge of patient
Example: kicking a resident out on short notice for invalid reasons
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints
Example: overuse of sedatives or anti-psychotic drugs
- Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life
If you have noticed any of these signs, call your local Ombudsman as soon as possible.
Congratulations to Mee Lee Chin, LTC Ombudsman Program manager, Ed Arnold, Assistant Program Manager, and the dedicated group of Ombudsman Volunteers for this accomplishment
Mee Lee emphasizes to residents that “we are there for them on their behalf and assist at their direction. We work with residents, families, and facility staff towards resolving issues.”
“We are a resource to a resident who needs someone to advocate on their behalf. We are a resource to a family member who may need support in communicating with the home about their loved one’s care. We are a resource to staff about resident’s rights, nursing home guidelines, and regulations. In addition, we are a resource for the Department of Public Health during their complaint investigations and re-certification surveys of nursing homes.”
If you would like to learn more about the program, call NSES at 978-750-4540.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the program, check our website at https://nselder.org/about-our-volunteers-2/ where you will find the application process to follow. North Shore Elder Services is looking for volunteers who are able to commit two to three hours per week at their assigned home. There is a mandatory three-day training class to become certified as a representative of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman program. It is a great opportunity to serve as an advocate to our elders living in long-term care homes. An Ombudsman Volunteer should enjoy working with the older population and be sensitive to the needs of residents in long-term care homes. Being a good listener is important along with being able to resolve issues in an impartial and calm manner.