Long-Term Care Ombudsman (Advocacy for residents in long-term care facilities)
North Carolina's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program consists of an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and 16 Offices of the Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman that are housed in Area Agencies on Aging across North Carolina. Long-Term Care Ombudsmen assist residents of long-term care facilities in exercising their rights and attempt to resolve grievances between residents/families and facilities.
The regional ombudsmen help support the efforts of Adult Care Home and Nursing Home Community Advisory Committees (N.C.G.S. 131E-128 and 131D-3).
The services provided by the Ombudsman Program include:
- Answering questions and giving guidance about the long-term care system. An ombudsman will:
- explain long-term care options
- give pointers on how to select a long-term care facility and provide information on specific facilities (such as the latest and past certification survey reports and complaint information)
- explain residents' rights and other federal and state laws and regulations affecting long-term care facilities and residents
- give guidance on the Medicaid and Medicare programs—specifically on coverage criteria, application procedures and what services these programs cover
- give guidance on such matters such as powers of attorney, living wills and guardianship.
- Educating community groups and long-term care providers on various topics such as residents' rights, restraint use, care planning, activities and new laws.
- Investigating and assessing matters to help families, residents and families resolve concerns and problems. Common areas of complaints include:
- Inadequate medical and personal services being provided to residents such as problems with medication, nutrition and personal hygiene
- financial concerns such as handling of residents' funds, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
- rights of residents, such as the right to be treated with courtesy and to have individual requests and preferences respected
- nursing home administrative decisions, such as admission to or discharge from a facility
- Working with appropriate regulatory agencies and referring individuals to such agencies when resolutions of concerns or grievances are not possible through the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program alone.
- Raising long-term care issues of concern to policymakers.
North Carolina’s State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is Sharon Wilder.