Area Agency on Aging

Ombudsman

What is a Long Term Care Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman is an advocate for residentís rights and is responsible for investigating complaints made by, or on behalf of, nursing and adult care home residents. Ombudsmen work with residents, family members, concerned citizens, facilities, as well as public and private agencies to enhance the quality of care and quality of life for residents in long term care facilities.

The North Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, as established by the Older Americanís Act, consists of individuals at the state and local levels. The State Long Term Care Ombudsman is located within the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services in Raleigh. Regional Long Term Care Ombudsmen are in each Area Agency on Aging, located in Lead Regional Organizations.

What Does an Ombudsman Do?
  • Advocates for Residents when their legal rights have been violated or they are not receiving proper care or assistance.
  • Investigates Concerns from the residents of nursing and adult care homes, or from others on their behalf, as they relate to residentís rights, services, and benefits. Complaints may be against facilities, government agencies or programs, or other service providers.
  • Mediates Disputes between long term care residents and facilities as well as private and government agencies on behalf of the residents.
  • Provides Technical Assistance to residents, families, and staff in areas including: care planning, family and resident councils, resident transfer and discharge, long term care placement, etc.
  • Promotes Elder Abuse Awareness within the community.
  • Monitors long term care facilities to ensure residentsí rights are not being violated.
  • Educates the public on long term care issues and promotes increased community involvement in long term care facilities.

What are Community Advisory Committees?

The Ombudsman works in conjunction with Nursing Home and Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committees in each county to serve residents in long term care facilities. Community Advisory Committees are volunteers appointed by the county commissioners who visit facilities, interact with residents, and advocate for quality care in the homes. Members must reside within the county, which they serve and serve terms from 1-3 years.

Nursing Home Community Advisory Committees are required to visit all nursing homes every three months as sub-committees. They serve as supportive local advocates which helps to maintain the spirit of the Nursing Home Residentís Bill of Rights.

Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committees are required to visit Adult Care Homes every three months and Family Care Homes annually. This committee helps to maintain the Adult Care Home Residentís bill of Rights.

Both Community Advisory Committees:
  • Advocate for residents of long term care facilities and work on the local level as advocates for residents.
  • Visit facilities to ensure that the Residentís Bill of Rights is being followed.
  • Promote elder abuse awareness.
Who May Need an Ombudsman?
  • Residents of Nursing Homes, Adult Care Homes, Family Care Homes, and Group Homes for the Developmentally Disabled.
  • Family and friends of residents in long term care.
  • Long term Care Facility Staff
  • Government Agencies and Community Groups
  • Anyone seeking information and education regarding long term care or placement issues.
What to do Before Calling the Ombudsman
  • Be prepared. Be organized and have your concerns written down to help you be more effective and ask the right questions.
  • Keep your own records. Take notes or keep a journal. Remember to record dates, times and people you spoke with regarding your concerns.
  • Be pleasant. Getting angry or rude never helps to solve the problem
  • Utilize the facility complaint or grievance procedure system. If possible, try and solve complaints through the facility first.