The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

State and local long-term ombudsmen serve as consumer watchdogs for residential care facilities by monitoring conditions, investigating complaints, and fighting for resident’s rights.

What Are Long-Term Care Ombudsmen?
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is a significant part of the residential care system. Federal law requires each State Agency on Aging to have an Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and more than 500 local ombudsman programs now exist nationwide. These offices provide help and information to older Americans and their families regarding long-term care facilities. They also serve as advocates who fight for the rights of residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, and similar adult care facilities.

Residents’ Rights

  • To be treated with respect and dignity
  • To be free from chemical and physical restraints
  • To manage their own finances
  • To voice grievances without fear of retaliation
  • To associate and communicate privately with any person of their choice
  • To send and receive personal mail
  • To have personal and medical records kept confidential
  • To apply for state and federal assistance without discrimination
  • To be fully informed prior to admission of their rights, available services, and all charges
  • To be given advance notice of transfer or discharge

While most residents receive good care in long-term care facilities, far too many are neglected—and incidents of psychological, physical, and other kinds of abuse do occur. Thus, thousands of trained volunteer ombudsmen regularly visit long-term care facilities, monitor conditions and care, and provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves. They investigate complaints made by—or on behalf of—residents, and work to resolve the issues. If they find serious violations in a facility, ombudsmen refer the matter to state Health Departments and other authorities.

Other Ombudsman Responsibilities

  • Provide information to residents about long-term care services
  • Represent the interests of residents before governmental agencies
  • Seek administrative, legal, and other remedies to protect residents
  • Recommend changes in laws and regulations pertaining to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents
  • Educate and inform consumers and the general public regarding issues and concerns related to long-term care
  • Promote the development of citizen organizations to participate in the program
  • Provide technical support for the development of resident and family councils to protect the well-being and rights of residents

How Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Can Help You

Since they examine the conditions in long-term care facilities on a regular basis, local ombudsmen are a great source for information on those in your area. While they cannot recommend one particular facility over another, ombudsmen can provide information on:

  • The latest survey report on the facility that you’re visiting
  • The number and nature of complaints against the facility
  • The results and conclusions of the investigation into these complaints
  • What to look for as signs of good care in facilities

To access links to your state's Long-Term Care Ombudsmen, go here:

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, United States Department of Health and Human Services Health Care Financing Administration.


The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging.

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