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Facts

All California Ombudsmen are State-certified and investigate 50,000 complaints annually for 221,763 residents in 7,753 long-term care skilled nursing and assisted/residential care facilities throughout California.

FAQs

1. The doctor said my parent needs 24-hour supervision. I need help. I don’t know where to start.
Start by calling our Long-Term Care Ombudsman Services. Our Ombudsmen visit all facilities in Orange County. When you call, let us know which area is convenient to you and we can give you names of facilities that will meet your family member’s needs with the appropriate level of care and security.

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2. My Mother wanders at night and I am concerned about her safety.
Whether loved ones live at home with you or in a licensed care setting, you should contact the Alzheimer's Association and request information about a safe return bracelet. If they live at home, consider a simple alarm system to alert you when a door is opened. In a licensed care facility there should be an alarm system in place if the facility staff claims they are able to care for residents with dementia.

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3. What must I look for when I visit a facility?
There are many things to consider depending on the type of facility under consideration. Please contact our Ombudsman and your questions will be answered specifically to meet your needs. We have checklists for both skilled and residential/assisted care facilities that are available.

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4. How many times should I visit a facility before making a decision?
Time permitting, visit at least three times. First, make an appointment to tour the facility. The second visit should be unannounced at a mealtime and last, also unannounced, visit during a weekend or holiday to observe whether or not there is proper staffing to meet the residents’ needs.

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5. What do I need to do before signing the final admission papers?
Whenever possible, take the admission agreement home with you and make time to read it very carefully, from beginning to end. Have someone else read it, as well, to make sure you haven't missed anything. Note specifics on the agreement to clarify what services will be provided (i.e., how many baths per week) or other areas of concern (refunds, moving out, etc.). Again, do not hesitate to contact the Ombudsman with any questions or concerns. Always get a copy of the signed agreement for your records.

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6. The facility told me I had to pay a cleaning/security deposit fee of $500 before Dad could move in. Can they do that?
No. Facilities cannot charge a cleaning or security fee. Beware of other types of "deposits" as well. Always contact the Ombudsman or the appropriate licensing agency if you have questions or concerns. These services are considered part of the cost of doing business.

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7. The administrator told me I had to pay a $1,000 dollars for a pre-admission evaluation of my Mom. Is this legal?
Legal? Probably. Do you have to agree to it? Probably not. Most likely you will be able to provide all the necessary information (doctor's report, etc.), that would be determined through a pre-admission evaluation.

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8. I just got a bill for my Mom and was charged $400 extra because the facility takes my Mother to the dining room for her meals.
Read the admission agreement carefully. If it is not listed as costing extra, you do not have to pay. The facility can add on extra costs of care for attending to a resident’s daily needs, such as escorting them to the dining area, bathing, medication management, etc., they must notify the resident or responsible party as to the need for this added service.

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9. There are several valuable items missing in Mother’s room. The administrator apologized and told us not to bring expensive items because things disappear.
Remember, this is your Mother’s home, and she should be allowed to have anything there she desires. Remind the administrator of this, and file a complaint with administration, asking for an investigation into the thefts.

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10. Where can I find a good resource for concise information on rights in a long-term care facility for my family member?
There are two very good booklets available: 1) How to Get Care from a Residential Care Facility and 2) Nursing Home Companion are most reliable resources for families. These booklets are prepared by attorneys at BET TZEDEK Legal Services and may be obtained for a minimum charge at www.bettzedek.org.

A copy of residents' rights should be included in each admission packet. The Ombudsman will be happy to provide these as well.

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11. How can I become an Ombudsman?
Call our office at 714-479-0107 or 800-300-6222, or email Patricia Moran-Johnson, Coordinator of Volunteer Support Services: pmjohnson@coaoc.org. We encourage you to attend a Changing Lives tour to learn more about the Ombudsman program. You can sign up for an upcoming tour here. You will be sent an application packet that must be returned prior to our semi-annual pre-training orientations. You can also complete a pre-application on this web site and it will be forwarded to our office.

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12. My father resides in a 6 bed board and care facility. He is alert, but not mobile. All of the other residents there have some degree of dementia. There is Only one caregiver on duty for all 6 residents. My father does not get the attention he needs, in a timely manner. What if anything can I do?
Unfortunately there are no regulations for the number of caregivers needed per number of residents. If your father is being neglected and not being provided adequate care, contact your Ombudsman and have your father file a complaint. The Ombudsman would then ask your father for his permission to investigate the issue. You may also directly file a complaint with Community Care Licensing, the licensing agency for residential care facilities. That number is 714-703-2840.

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