OMBUDSMAN: Resident Advocate

?The role of the Ombudsman is to ensure dignity, quality-of-life, and care for all long-term care residents (both in RCFEs as well as in Skilled Nursing Facilities [SNFs]), through empowerment and advocacy.   Ombudsman are community volunteers who attend training before being certified for entry into the program.  

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program exists in all states under the authorization of the Older American’s Act. (Title Title VII, Chapter 2,§ 711-713). Statewide, there are 35 Ombudsman Program Coordinators;  in San Diego, the program operates under the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, office of Aging and Independence Services (858) 560-2507. Program staff and trained volunteers have an ongoing presence in long term care facilities (RCFEs and skilled nursing facilities).  

During their monthly visits, they are responsible for:

  • listening to the concerns of residents
  • ensuring dignity, quality of life, and safety is being maintained by both staff and the physical environment
  • providing information and assistance when requested
  • witnessing advanced healthcare directives (AHCD) in skilled nursing facilities only, not RCFEs
  • investigating and resolving complaints related to care or personal rights, and
  • advocating for individuals who are victims of suspected abuse.

Ombudsmen are required to respect the confidentiality and expressed wishes of residents, with the vision being a long-term care system where the individual retains choice and control.  In the event a complaint cannot be resolved, Ombudsmen can refer a complaint to Community Care Licensing (CCL).  CCL and the Ombudsman program maintain an agreement to work together to look after these facilities and the residents who live there.  

If your resident has a problem with the facility, contact the facility's assigned Ombudsman to obtain assistance and resident-representation. Each RCFE is required to prominently post a large Ombudsman poster which contains the number their 24-hour CRISISline (800-231-4024) for their advocacy or assistance.  You can always call that number to get connected to the Ombudsman Program.  In San Diego County call 800-640-4661 for their help.  
If you are interested in becoming an Ombudsman in San Diego County, call 1-800-510-202 to find out when the next recruitment period begins. 
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