What is an Ombudsman?
The word ombudsman (om-budz-man) is of Swedish origin, and means a person who speaks on behalf of another. The Missouri Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program is a statewide network of individuals who help residents in long-term care facilities maintain and improve their quality of life by helping ensure their rights are preserved and respected.
Ombudsmen have many different roles in their work:
- Facilitator: Helping people formulate or simplify problems and complaints.
- Educator: Providing materials and resources to residents, facility staff, families, and the community at large that encourage and support self-help and problem solving.
- Broker: Making referrals and following through until the problem is solved.
- Intermediary: Promoting communication among those involved in a problem.
- Collaborator: Working with residents and staff toward mutually beneficial solutions.
- Mediator: Bringing together all pertinent individuals to arrive at an agreement or a compromise.
- Advocate: Acting on behalf of someone else.
- Investigator: Gathering pertinent information from many sources in order to evaluate facts objectively.
- Problem solver: Resolving problems and complaints from residents.
- Negotiator: Arranging for differing parties to discuss their issues and providing an objective viewpoint.
Ombudsman Program Description
Missouri’s ombudsman program is a network of ombudsmen volunteers serving residents of nursing homes and residential care facilities to provide support and assistance with their problems or complaints. Individual ombudsman volunteers are recruited by regional ombudsman coordinators in their local ombudsman programs, operated by the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) or their service providers. Following screening and training, the volunteer ombudsman is assigned to a facility or facilities. The volunteer becomes familiar with the facility and its procedures and then begins regular visits with the residents.
As residents get to know the ombudsman volunteer, they are able to discuss complaints and concerns with the volunteer. The volunteer helps the residents to work through their issues, and helps them become empowered to resolve complaints.
Data about the types and numbers of complaints, and whether they were resolved to the satisfaction of the resident are reported to the HHS Adminstration on Community Living, Administration on Aging, through the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and Regional Ombudsman programs.