AGING AND LONG-TERM SERVICES NEWS RELEASE
Rights are a hot topic this year. Covid 19 has brought our attention to how we interact with the world around us to a magnificent degree. No where does this come closer to the heart than to those living in Long Term Care (LTC). With well over one million adults living in Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living facilities in the United States, the Rights of Residents of these facilities is imperative to understand, to abide by and to advocate for. The New Mexico Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (NMLTCOP) does just that.
The Ombudsman Program has been protected by State and Federal mandates since 1972. Each Nursing Home and Assisted Living Community in the United States has an Ombudsman ready to educate, support, coach and advocate for the rights of residents. In New Mexico, we currently have 72 Nursing Facilities and 240 Assisted Living Communities.
Certified Regional Coordinators and Volunteer Ombudsmen work with residents to ascertain the Rights of Fairness, Freedom, Choice, Privacy and Legal Representation in every facility. How this translates into everyday life means the resident has the right to appetizing and nutritious meals, to be treated with respect, to come and go from the facility without unfair restrictions, to choose one’s own physician, pharmacy and other health care provider, to accept and refuse medical treatment and to keep and use personal belongings without loss or damage. While Covid has impacted some of these rights, it has not removed them. They stand as true. Your Ombudsman and Ombudsman Volunteer can assist in navigating these currently murky waters.
This at times limited ability to enter a LTC facility means now, more than ever, the Ombudsman must be well staffed, creative and adventurous to meet the needs of the resident. The Ombudsman is a resource to turn to when it seems one’s complaints are not being heard or addressed. The Ombudsman always hold confidentiality as a central premise and accept complaints anonymously and confidentially when it seems to a resident that revealing their identity is too frightening or risky.
The Ombudsman Program was developed as a Volunteer Organization. Volunteers remain at the core of resolving complaints. Volunteers with the Ombudsman Program are trained community members whose presence in facilities is vital. In-person visits, electronic meetings such as Zoom, Facetime, Teams and telephone are being used successfully in lieu of face to face visits when entry into a facility is limited due to Covid activity.
The truth of the matter is that when entering a LTC facility, one’s personal rights are augmented and the Ombudsman stands ready to advocate and work toward that end. The short or long term resident who needs advocacy or the community member who wants to be part of this advocacy is just one phone call away from the guidance that will make a difference. We can be reached at 866-451-2901.