In the wake of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, our Ombudsman Program remains committed to the well-being of residents in long-term care facilities. Ombudsmen are certified by the State of California and are charged with resolving problems and advocating for the rights of residents in long-term care facilities. As the outbreak continues to evolve, so does state and federal guidance regarding residents in long-term care.
In order to mitigate the spread, the CDC issued new recommendations preventing in-person visits other than those who are essential to providing care for residents. These facilities are unique as they serve as both healthcare providers and as full-time homes for some of our most vulnerable Americans.
Unfortunately residents in long-term care facilities often feel a loss of control. They are told when to get up, when to eat and which activities to participate in. Residents may feel they have lost the ability to make their own decisions. Often, they feel they have lost their voice. One of the goals of the Ombudsman Program is to help empower residents to advocate for themselves. If they are unable to do so, Ombudsmen advocate for them, keeping in mind the resident’s expressed wishes.
The Ombudsman Program recognizes the challenge of staying connected during these difficult times and actively promotes resident contact with family and friends using telephones, iPads or tablets, as well as FaceTime, and other video-conferencing platforms. This empowers the resident to communicate frequently with family, friends and the Ombudsman assigned to the facility where they reside.
Every resident, by law, has the right to access support from a Long-Term Care Ombudsman by telephone. Facility staff must facilitate this contact if the resident does not have his or her own telephone. Ombudsman Program posters are located in every licensed long-term care facility and list the local Program’s telephone number, as well as the number for the 24-hour toll free state CRISIS line at 800-231-4024.
The Council on Aging –Southern California provides Ombudsman teams in Orange and Riverside County. We are working diligently to support all residents as developments continue to unfold in the COVID-19 crisis. Advocating for residents in long-term care facilities regarding health, safety and personal preferences remain our top priority.
Together, we can help the residents in long-term care facilities remain healthy, connected and protected.