How to get good care in a nursing home – the role of the LTC Ombudsman

I have written many times before about how the advocate for the nursing home resident-patient must know the rights of the resident.  What if the nursing home staff do not listen?  Is it “your word against theirs?”  No.

Residents (under the Nursing Home Reform Law of 1987 the people in nursing homes are referred to as residents) have guaranteed rights. It surprises many but a resident is supposed to be able to choose his or her activities (including bedtime) and have veto power over a treatment plan. This runs counter to the common experience of institutional care that most experience.  Everybody gets up at the same time. In the evening its lights out at the same time.  And so on.

How does the advocate have any leverage against the institutional “system?”

The answer? Know who is the Long Term Care Ombudsman representative that covers your nursing home. Their role is to improve the quality of care and quality of life experienced by residents who reside in licensed long term care facilities.  Part of that includes informing nursing homes when they out of compliance with the law and regulations concerning resident care and rights.

For example we had a situation where a shiny new nursing home proposed discharge a resident to another nursing home after he completed his post-hospital skilled care covered by Medicare.  We informed the advocate that the resident had a right to stay there and apply for Medicaid. The nursing home thought they could choose who they would offer the Medicaid beds to. We had the advocate contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman’s office and the nursing home was set straight.  The resident stayed.

So know who is your  Long Term Care Ombudsman representative for your nursing home.   Their number is 1–866-485-9393.