Long-term care Your Coverage Options

Help for people getting long-term care

Written by Diane Archer

It’s not clear when Congress will enact legislation that helps ensure everyone in America gets the long-term care services and supports they need. Certainly, not during this administration. But, if you are in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other long-term care facility, you should be able to get help from a long-term care ombudsman.

The Older Americans’ Act provides government-funded assistance with resident complaints and advocacy in every state for people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities through the Administration on Aging’s long-term care ombudsmen.  According to Susan Jaffe at Kaiser Health News, in 2015, long-term care ombudsmen investigated 200,000 complaints, resolving more than half of them. Complaints range from issues with admissions and discharges, to the conditions of the living facilities, including the food and the noise levels, the rights of residents and abuse and neglect.

Volunteers do a lot of the leg work. The 8,155 volunteers have the right to visit any area of a long-term care facility whenever they want without permission. They can speak with residents as well, as they please. Their job is to alert residents to their rights and identify resident issues that need addressing, as well as to resolve them when possible. In some instances, they will call in state officials to assist them. Complaints are all treated as confidential.

Volunteers can be a health care buddy of sorts to residents who are not fit to speak for themselves and do not have family or friends to advocate for them. In addition to the volunteers, 2,257 paid staff at the Administration on Aging work as ombudsmen and supervise and advise the volunteers.

To be a volunteer requires attending training sessions and, at least in some states, passing a criminal background check, but no professional expertise. To learn more, please watch this video.

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