Long Term Care Ombudsmen

Congress passed the Older Americans Act in 1965, but the long term care ombudsman program that the law required wasn’t fully implemented for another 10 years.  In Arizona, that program is contained in Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 46-452.01 and 46-452.02.  This resource, which gets its authority from the Department of Economic Security, but is administered by the Area Agency on Aging (In Phoenix, www.aaaphx.org, or nationally, www.n4a.org). 

While nursing homes are governed by more federal regulations than any industry but nuclear power, assisted living facilities are governed by state regulations.  The long-term care ombudsman is in place to make sure that they adhere to those regulations, and that they always have the best interest of the resident in mind.

The long-term care Ombudsman program is a resident-centered advocacy program.  The ombudsmen advocate to promote the rights of residents, and improve the quality of their lives. They educate residents and their families, as well as facility staff and the community.  While they can’t address all of the issues that may  be raised, they can identify agencies that can help, and coordinate efforts with other agencies and service providers. Finally, they can identify problem areas in facilities and advocate for change. 

In Maricopa County, AZ,  the LTC Ombudsman has a professional staff of 9 people.  Since Maricopa County is larger than 22 states, they also utilize a large cadre of volunteers. If you are interested in serving in this way, contact the Area Agency in your community.

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