Tag: Who Knew

What is an Ombudsman?

An ombudsman serves the public by reviewing and investigating complaints about a certain type of institution. One kind of ombudsman watches over long-term care facilities for the elderly, such as assisted living and nursing homes. In addition to handling specific complaints from the public, ombudsmen advocate on behalf of long-term care residents in general. More than 500 such ombudsmen exist throughout the United States, according to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program of St. Louis. It’s very important for seniors and their families to know about ombudsmen.

Although many long-term care facilities treat seniors well, abuse and neglect occur far too often. New Brunswick’s provincial government confirmed 40 allegations of abuse during a period of two years, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. About 32 percent involved abuse or neglect committed by the staff of long-term care facilities. The rest of the complaints related to residents abusing each other. Sadly, dementia can lead to aggressive behavior from time to time. Ombudsmen play a very important role in preventing abuse and ensuring quality care. The State of New Jersey reports that its ombudsman’s office performs over 3,000 complaint investigations annually.

This type of ombudsman may work for a regional government agency or a non-profit organization. Some are appointed by state or provincial governors. Ombudsmen may receive pay or work as volunteers. Salaried ombudsmen typically have greater responsibilities and work more hours. They perform administrative tasks and supervise employees. Some also produce reports or newsletters to inform the public about issues regarding long-term care. Experienced and well-educated individuals oversee volunteer ombudsmen. Depending upon the type and severity of a problem, a volunteer can resolve the issue personally or forward the complaint to another agency.

Ombudsmen need special training to handle complaints competently. The required training varies from one region to another. Some volunteer programs provide free ombudsman training sessions. Salaried positions generally demand much more training and education. For example, the state of West Virginia requires its long-term care ombudsman to hold a master’s degree and possess experience in a relevant field. With significant work experience, a bachelor’s degree is acceptable. The state also applies various restrictions to prevent conflicts of interest. It will not hire an ombudsman who has recently worked in a long-term care facility. It is important to have an ombudsman who understands how such facilities work, but he or she should not prioritize the interests of owners and staff.

Seniors should consider contacting ombudsmen about mistreatment they experience or observe in long-term care facilities. The California Department of Aging urges the public to contact ombudsmen about service quality issues and suspected financial, psychological or physical abuse. It’s also important to report neglect, which can be just as harmful. Ombudsmen usually accept reports from anonymous or named sources. This allows residents and staff members to complain without fear of retribution. In many areas, a toll-free number is available for making complaints. Some of these numbers operate at all times; others remain limited to business or daytime hours. Depending upon the state or province, it may also be possible to email, fax or mail such complaints.

At the same time, an ombudsman isn’t always the best person to contact. Direct communication with the staff of a long-term care facility may yield a solution more quickly. Seniors can also tell visiting friends and relatives about such problems. In some cases, staff members take complaints from non-residents more seriously. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services recommends that long-term care residents contact the ombudsman if efforts to communicate with the staff fail to deliver positive results. It also suggests speaking with a doctor about concerns regarding medical treatment in a long-term care facility. This will help determine if the treatment is actually improper or inadequate.

Due to the large volume of complaints, ombudsmen cannot always respond quickly to reports of abuse. A lack of state funding or inadequate staffing can also slow the response to complaints. If a person faces immediate danger, it’s best to contact the police first. When complaints to an ombudsman fail to adequately resolve a serious problem, seniors shouldn’t give up. Government licensing workers and other regulators also accept complaints about problems with long-term care. Another option involves speaking with an attorney. If mistreatment has already caused physical or financial harm, a lawsuit may be warranted.

Like police, ombudsmen also help to prevent abuse. The staff of long-term care homes become less likely to mistreat residents when they know that ombudsmen, government regulators, and relatives are watching over them. Some states require every senior housing facility to post the name and contact information of an ombudsman. Ombudsmen occasionally visit nursing or assisted living homes without receiving complaints. They can ask residents and staff about living conditions in a facility.

Ombudsmen can do much to improve the living conditions of the elderly and ensure that they receive proper care. However, they can only achieve this goal when people are willing to provide information. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services urges people to act on concerns as soon as possible, before problems lead to serious harm. When making a complaint, consult the admission agreement; it outlines all of the services that a specific facility is required to supply. It’s also helpful to determine if the facility has failed to follow a specific government regulation. With the help of prompt and detailed complaints, ombudsmen can do their jobs well.

Article Source – SeniorCare.net

Home Safety Tips for Seniors

Due to the growing popularity of in-home care for seniors, it’s important to make sure you and your loved one are aware of the potential dangers present in the home for seniors living alone and prepare accordingly. You can help prevent falls and accidents by making changes to unsafe areas in the home with these tips.

General Home Safety

The following home safety tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • Consider a medical alert or a buddy system.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and smoke detector on every floor.
  • Never smoke when alone or in bed.
  • Always get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Take your time, and make sure you have your balance.
  • Wear proper fitting shoes with low heels.
  • Use a correctly measured walking aid.
  • Remove or tack down all scatter rugs.
  • Remove electrical or telephone cords from traffic areas.
  • Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
  • Wipe up spills promptly.
  • Avoid standing on ladders or chairs.
  • Have sturdy rails for all stairs inside and outside the house, or, if necessary, purchase a chairlift.
  • Use only non-glare 100 watt or greater incandescent bulbs (or the fluorescent equivalents.)
  • Make sure that all staircases have good lighting with switches at top and bottom.
  • Make sure that staircase steps should have a non-slip surface.

Bathroom Safety

  • Leave a light on in your bathroom at night.
  • Use recommended bath aids, securely installed on the walls of the bath/shower stall and on the sides of the toilet.
  • Skid-proof the tub and make sure the bath mat has a non-slip bottom.
  • To avoid scalds, turn water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Mark cold and hot faucets clearly.
  • Use door locks that can be opened from both sides.
  • If possible, bathe only when help is available.

Kitchen Safety

  • Keep floors clean and uncluttered.
  • Illuminate work areas.
  • Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
  • Store sharp knives in a rack.
  • Use a kettle with an automatic shut-off.
  • Store heavier objects at waist level.
  • Store hazardous items separate from food.
  • Avoid wearing long, loose clothing when cooking over the stove.
  • Make sure food is rotated regularly and check expiration dates.

Drug Safety

  • Review your medicines frequently with your doctor or pharmacist and when you take new medication.
  • Make sure medicines are clearly labeled.
  • Read medicine labels in good light to ensure you have the right medicine and always take the correct dose.
  • Dispose of any old or used medicines.
  • Never borrow prescription drugs from others.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you mix alcohol and your drugs.
  • Have medication dispensed in a bubble pack or convenient dispenser.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before mixing non-prescription drugs and prescription drugs.

This article is from

A Place For Mom

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Volunteering: Why Should I?

Nursing homes like ours thrives with educated, caring staff and enthusiastic volunteers. The simple act of visiting with a resident, holding their hand or offering a listening ear may seem like a small thing, but is actually quite powerful because that simple act of caring brings them immeasurable comfort, joy and encouragement.

“Experience Improved Health and Well-being: Many people who volunteer say that helping others gives them a good feeling inside, something that researchers call a “helpers high”. There seems to be an actual physical sensation that occurs when people help others that makes them experience greater energy and strength, less depression and increased feelings of self-worth, reports Psychology Today. Another survey of a large group of older adults showed that while those who received social support did not experience a marked improvement in health, those who gave support to others had lower mortality rates. That means that caregivers actually benefit the most when they help others.”

study conducted by the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center showed that there was a link between higher levels of social connections and participation in social activities with better cognitive function.”

“In addition, volunteering not only provides us with the opportunity to get involved in a cause that we are passionate about, but also provides the chance to look beyond our own circumstances and appreciate what others are experiencing. The difference that you’ll make in someone else’s life will make an even bigger difference in yours.” – Rita Altman, R.N. Source


10 Reasons to Volunteer at a Nursing Home

  1. A little goes a long way: if you can push a wheelchair safely from one location to another, or sew on a button, you can be a hero.
  2. For those considering a new career, it’s a great way to see if you’re interested in working with older adults. Based on US demographics, we’ll be needing a lot of folks who enjoy working with “people of age.”
  3. Feeling lonely? A nursing home is like a small town. It won’t be long before everyone is happy to see you and greets you by name.
  4. It puts your problems into perspective.
  5. You can benefit from the experiences of others. Learning about life from those who have lived for a while is an invaluable gift.
  6. You’ll fall in love with a new oldster every week.
  7. Death won’t seem so scary after a while, but rather a natural and expected passage.
  8. You’ll hear living history every day, if you take the time to listen.
  9. Your time commitment can vary from daily to once a year and everything in between, making it an incredibly flexible way to give back to the world.
  10. As you’re referring to the “nice-looking 86-year old lady” and the “handsome new guy on the second floor,” you’ll realize you don’t look so bad either.


Volunteer Handout Single