It could be dirty floors, a foul smell, or just a complaint of persistent cold food. But what Timi Elwood looks for in her visits to the long-term care facility she is assigned to in southeast Portland are clues that tell her about the care and quality of life of residents. A 10-year veteran volunteer of Oregon’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Elwood says, “You want to see the residents up, dressed, and engaged and enjoying life as best as they can.”
Today, Elwood is one of 100 certified volunteer ombudsmen across the state working to ensure that 40,000 Oregonians living in long-term care facilities enjoy freedom from abuse and neglect and the ability to make choices about their care. Trained and authorized to visit care facilities, Elwood advocates for residents and investigates complaints.
How to Find an Ombudsman
If you or your loved one has an unresolved issue with a long-term care facility and need assistance to get the problem corrected, there are several ways you can find an ombudsman. Check for a sign posted in the long-term care facility that lists the ombudsman’s office and phone number or ask the staff for information. In Oregon, the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is available toll-free at 800-522-2602 or online at www.oregon.gov/LTCO.
The Ombudsman is an independent state agency, and its mission is to enhance the quality of life, improve the level of care, protect individuals’ rights and promote the dignity of each Oregonian residing in licensed long-term care facilities.
What the Ombudsman Will Do
Ombudsmen have been trained to investigate and resolve complaints about nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Once an ombudsman has been assigned to a case, he or she will listen to the complaint, talk to the resident about it, investigate the problem and try to resolve it by working with the staff of the facility. If needed, they will also notify the agency that licenses and regulates the facility. In addition, they can provide information on residents’ rights and how to find a quality nursing home, answer questions about procedures, eligibility and payment as well as help you understand the resident contract. The ombudsmen’s services are free of charge.
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