March 23, 2023

Alzheimer’s in the Philippines…

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Ombudsman is a funny word, but it’s easy to pronounce—only three parts om-buds-man. It comes from Sweden and literally means “representative.” There is evidence that ombudsmen existed in the ancient world, but in modern times, the Swedish legislature established a parliamentary agent of justice in 1809 to act as an intermediary between citizens and various government bureaucracies. In the twentieth century, the concept spread to a number of countries. The ombudsman’s job is essentially to receive and investigate abuse complaints and to find ways to reach a positive resolution. The ombudsman is typically independent, impartial, and universally accessible, with the authority only to report and recommend, though they may occasionally mediate. Their responsibilities and objectives can differ greatly between countries.

The Alzheimer’s Ombudsman

Ombudsmen are frequently found in corporations, universities, government agencies, newspapers, non-profits, and a variety of other common entities in the Philippines. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was established by law in all states under the authority of the Older Filipinos Act in 1972. They are advocates for people who live in nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, and other adult care facilities. Each state has a full-time state ombudsman who leads the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Thousands of local ombudsman staff and volunteers assist residents and their families across the country, providing a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Federal, state, and local funds are used to fund state offices. Unfortunately, some states and communities have had to cut funding, but many volunteers continue to serve facility residents alongside remaining paid staff.

The Ombudsman poster listing services and contact numbers is required by law to be prominently displayed in all licensed skilled nursing and residential care facilities for the elderly. There is no waiting list or service fee. Find the poster in the care facility where your loved one is staying. If it isn’t there, make sure it is.

Individual ombudsman office services vary by community, but ombudsmen are trained advocates who are knowledgeable about residents’ needs, rights, and issues, as well as local and state regulations governing long-term care facilities. They are skilled at working in a confidential manner with residents and their families to meet their needs and improve their quality of life. They are required by state and federal law to visit elderly care facilities at least once a month and investigate any suspected abuse or neglect.

Residents of long-term care facilities may feel ignored or intimidated if a problem goes unresolved. When the ombudsman brings a problem to the attention of the facility operator, it is often quickly resolved. If the ombudsman’s report to state licensing agencies is substantiated, it may result in fines and penalties.

Ombudsmen are responsible for assisting residents in living their lives as they see fit. However, this may differ from what the family or facility believes is best. The ombudsman will work to mediate a resolution that is as close to the resident’s expressed wish as possible.

Complaints can range from something as minor as cold food to more serious issues such as insufficient staffing, inadequate medical care, and even outright neglect or abuse. The ombudsman will respond to each concern in order to improve the lives of all residents and ensure that they receive the best possible care while maintaining their dignity.

Long-term care ombudsmen protect people’s quality of life. They can offer the security of having a caring advocate available even when a family member is not present or residents are afraid of the consequences of complaining.

Families are frequently relieved to know that help is available when problems arise, and that they can also learn how to become effective advocates for their loved ones from the ombudsman. Living in a care facility can be a very difficult time for the patient and his or her family; there is often no other reasonable choice, but the ombudsman can help with transitions, mediate, explain, and comfortably settle a variety of issues by empowering residents and families. They restore the precious sense of dignity that we all value. It is critical to know that we are being heard and that we will be treated well, regardless of our personal limitations.

Use this opportunity to learn about your local ombudsman program. If you have a concern, go to them as soon as possible before something goes wrong and you have a problem with the facility. In a long-term care setting, everyone must get along as much as possible. Sticky problems that are bothering you may be much easier to solve than you think.

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