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Nursing Home Complaints? The Ombudsman Is on Your Side

nursing home complaints

Expert help for problems with a care facility

Some assisted living communities and nursing homes provide wonderful care for their residents. Others are…not so good, to put it mildly.

If your senior isn’t getting proper care from their care community, you have no choice but to try to get them to address the problems. After all, moving them to another place isn’t something you can do on a whim.

But when the administration ignores complaints, it feels like the whole system is working against you and there’s nothing you can do.

You don’t have to fight the system alone! You can get free expert help from your local ombudsman. They’re insiders who help you get care community problems resolved.


What is an ombudsman?

A long term care ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, residential care homes, and assisted living communities.

They handle complaints and advocate for improvements in the long term care system. They’re also the ones who can tell you more about care facilities and resident rights.

It’s a free government program

The Ombudsman Program is completely free to use. It’s a government program under the Administration on Aging (AoA).

In 2013, the ombudsman program investigated over 190,512 complaints on behalf of 123,666 people across the U.S.. They also provided information on long term care to 335,088 people.

Whatever you say is confidential

If you want, the ombudsman can help you with any complaints or issues you’re having with the care community.

You can feel safe when you contact your ombudsman because unless you give them permission to share your concerns, whatever you say is confidential.

7 common problems that ombudsmen help with

When a senior isn’t getting proper care, there are usually signs that alert you to problems. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, you’re concerned about your senior’s quality of care, or the facility won’t address your concerns or fix problems, call your local ombudsman ASAP.

Here are 7 common issues that ombudsmen help with and signs that they might be happening to your older adult.

1. Physical, verbal, or mental abuse

  1. Signs: unexplained bruises and injuries, fear of staff, increased agitation or depression

2. Being deprived of services needed to maintain residents’ physical and mental health

  1. Signs: rapid weight loss, dehydrationpressure sores

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3. Unreasonable confinement

  1. Signs: never able to leave the room, being ignored

4. Poor quality of care

  1. Signs: falls or injuries, infrequent diaper changes, lack of bathing, call buttons don’t get answered

5. Improper transfer or discharge of patient

  1. Example: kicking a resident out on short notice for invalid reasons

6. Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints

  1. Example: overuse of sedatives or anti-psychotic drugs

7. Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life

3 ways to find your local ombudsman

1. The office address and phone number for your local ombudsman should be posted prominently in every long term care facility.

3. Use the “Search by Location” tool on this page to find your local Area Agency on Aging. They’ll be able to refer you to your local ombudsman’s office.

Bottom line

Residents of long term care facilities and their families have a right to good care. Nobody should suffer from abuse, neglect, discrimination, or retaliation.

If something seems wrong, it probably is – don’t hesitate to speak up. An ombudsman will support you in protecting your senior’s rights and getting them the care they deserve.

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