As our loved ones age, it's natural to become more concerned about their well-being and safety. However, as cases of senior abuse and neglect are all too common, families can be left feeling helpless and unsure where to turn to for help. This is where the Ombudsman Program in Arkansas can play a crucial role.
But what is an ombudsman? Your local ombudsman is an independent advocate appointed to investigate complaints and resolve conflicts. Regarding senior care, an ombudsman helps ensure that our loved ones are treated with respect and dignity and that their rights are protected.
In this article, we explore an ombudsman's specific duties and responsibilities in addressing the needs and concerns of older adults living in nursing homes and other senior care facilities. We also provide resources and explain how you can contact your local ombudsman.
Read on to learn about the Ombudsman Program in Arkansas so you will know what to do should your loved one experience problems with their senior care.
What is an Ombudsman?
An interesting fact: in Swedish, “ombudsman” literally means representative. In the context of senior care, an ombudsman acts as a representative of older adults who may not be able to speak up for themselves.
Furthermore, ombudsmen are tasked with ensuring that residents of nursing homes and other senior care facilities receive the care they need and deserve. This includes monitoring the quality of care, investigating complaints of abuse or neglect, and working with staff to address any issues.
How Important Is an Ombudsman?
Ombudsmen play a crucial role in investigating nursing home complaints because they offer a neutral and third-party perspective. Since an ombudsman is not an employee of a nursing home or the government agency that oversees it, they can remain unbiased and impartial when investigating complaints. This is particularly important in cases of abuse or neglect, where the safety and well-being of our loved ones are at stake.
An ombudsmen has the authority to make recommendations and work with nursing home staff to implement changes to improve the quality of care for residents. They also provide valuable information and support to families struggling to navigate the complex world of senior care.
Do I have to Pay to Receive This Service?
The good news is that the Ombudsman Program is completely free. Under the Older Americans Act, each state must have a long-term care ombudsman program. The Administration for Community Living and Administration on Aging oversee the ombudsman programs across the 50 states and territories of the United States.
How Can I Ensure That an Ombudsman Will Remain Impartial?
Ombudsmen treat all complaints and reports they receive fairly and confidentially. They will not share any information with other people unless they have your loved one’s consent.
How to Find Your Local Ombudsman
Here are some resources to help you find your local ombudsman:
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
You can contact your state’s ombudsman program by visiting the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center's website.
You can also contact the Ombudsman Program in Arkansas directly at:
AR Division of Aging and Adult Services, PO Box 1437-Slot W 241, 700 Main Street, Little Rock, AR 72203
If you have any concerns or suspicions about the care your loved one is receiving, don't hesitate to reach out for help and advice.
What Does an Ombudsman Do?
An ombudsman works to protect older adults' health, safety, welfare, and rights by resolving problems and promoting better policies and consumer protections at the facility, local, state, and national levels. In addition to resolving issues and complaints, your local ombudsman also ensures that residents of senior care facilities have timely access to ombudsman services.
Ombudsmen must visit their assigned facilities every month during which they spend time talking to the residents and learning about their living situations. These regular visits result in the ombudsmen building positive relationships with the residents and creates a safe space for them to speak about their thoughts and concerns.
What Can I Report to an Ombudsman?
Examples of the types of issues an ombudsman can help with include the following:
- Quality of care concerns: This could include issues with medication administration, nutrition, hydration, or inadequate staffing levels. Older adults often need constant assistance with physical activities, and if help is lacking, this can result in accidents such as falls.
- Abuse and neglect: If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated or abused in any way, such as an excessive use of sedatives or unwarranted confinement, the ombudsman can investigate and work to ensure that appropriate actions are taken. Emotional abuse is also common in these situations.
- Lack of communication: If you need help getting information from the nursing home staff about your loved one's care or treatment, the ombudsman can help facilitate improved communication.
- Discharge or transfer concerns: If you believe that a nursing home is discharging or transferring your loved one without proper notice or due process, the ombudsman can help you navigate the process and advocate for your loved one's rights.
For families with loved ones in nursing homes or other senior care facilities, an ombudsman is a valuable resource. They can provide information, support, and advocacy to ensure your loved one receives the care and treatment they deserve.
Reporting Senior Abuse and Complaints About Nursing Homes in Arkansas
It is important to know how to file a complaint if you need to report suspected abuse or neglect of a loved one in a nursing home or other senior care facility in Arkansas. Here are some of the agencies you may need to contact:
- Contact the Ombudsman Program in Arkansas: As mentioned earlier, the ombudsman can help investigate and resolve complaints about nursing homes. They can be reached at (501) 508-8857.
- Contact local law enforcement: If you suspect that a crime has been committed, such as physical or sexual abuse or theft, you can contact the local police department or sheriff's office.
- File a complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General's Office: The Attorney General's Office can investigate complaints related to consumer protection, including allegations of fraud or deceptive practices by nursing homes. You can reach them at (501) 682-2007 or (800) 482-8982. You can also look at their website.
In addition to these resources, you can reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging. Aside from valuable resources and wellness programs for older adults, these agencies also provides information and assistance for ombudsman services.
The ombudsman's role in addressing complaints about nursing homes and other senior care facilities cannot be overstated and it is important to know how to locate your local ombudsman and report any concerns or complaints about nursing home care.
Utilizing the resources available for reporting concerns or complaints to the Ombudsman Program in Arkansas is essential for advocating for your loved ones and ensuring they receive the assistance, support, and treatment they deserve.
Ensure your loved ones live a fulfilling life by looking into our caring for aging parents checklist.