Regional Ombudsman for Long Term Care Residents
Many people who live in nursing homes and assisted living don’t have family members or friends to advocate for them. This can leave them vulnerable to neglect and elder abuse–intentional or unintentional. That’s where the Ombudsman Program steps in. Ombudsmen ensure that every elder’s voice is heard and valued.
Who Is My Local Regional Ombudsman?
Regional Ombudsman for Garland, Montgomery, Hot Spring, Clark and Pike counties.
Regional Ombudsman for Pope, Johnson, Yell, Conway and Perry counties.
Contact the Ombudsman for your county if you have concerns about any of the following issues:
- Medicaid eligibility
- Food quality
- Transfers or discharges
- Room temperature
- Social activities
- Rights restrictions
- Care plans
Arkansas Long Term Care Ombudsman Program History
The Arkansas Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was implemented in 1975 upon receiving federal grant funding from the Administration on Aging. Nationally, federal grant funds became available in 1972 due to the eight-point Presidential Directive issued by President Richard Nixon in 1971, which addressed complaints by consumers. Arkansas, along with 44 other states, realized the significant impact that Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs were making on the overall care individuals were being provided.
In 1978, the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act passed by Congress mandated that all states establish a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Dr. Arthur S. Fleming, Commissioner on Aging under President Nixon; Elma Holder, Founder of the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR); and, Ralph Nader were instrumental in this program accomplishment.
The Arkansas office developed its program and established it statewide by subgrant Title III-B funding to all Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsmen were hired. In 2000, a Certified Volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman pilot program began with three participants. In 2003, a vigorous statewide campaign was initiated, and the program grew exponentially to include the highest number of CVOs per capita in the nation.
Currently, we have more than 740 ombudsmen including paid and volunteer. In 2007, we were honored with the selection of hosting the National State LTC Ombudsman Program (NASOP) annual conference. Our program received the Arkansas Gerontological Society Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2008. In partnership with an array of LTC stakeholders, we received the award to host the 2009 International Pioneer conference with global attendance of over 1200 people.
What Does an Ombudsman Do?
Usually, an ombudsman will visit their assigned facility monthly. Ombudsmen are individuals who act as representatives for those living in assisted living, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities. They listen to complaints and concerns and try to uncover any problems their residents may be experiencing. These concerns may include the staff, the facilities, their personal care, the well-being of their fellow residents, etc.
Volunteer Ombudsman Duties
- Inform residents of their rights under Federal and State Law and assist them in protecting their rights
- Provide information about the Ombudsman Program to residents and families
- Refer complaints and concerns to the Regional Ombudsman
- Observe and report conditions in nursing homes to the Regional Ombudsman
- Perform regular visitation to one specific nursing home, assisted living or residential care facility
In addition to looking into issues, you will also be spending quality time with the residents. Getting to know them better is both rewarding and helpful in gaining their trust. Many of our volunteers say this is their favorite part of being an ombudsman–building lasting relationships with the people for whom you are advocating.
How to Become a Volunteer Ombudsman in West Central Arkansas
Interested in senior advocacy in Arkansas? To learn more about becoming an ombudsman in your community, contact the Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas at 800-467-2170. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get started or on reporting senior abuse in Arkansas.