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, who are located within Area Agencies on Aging, also 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 Victor Orija.