Problem in the Nursing Home? Call the Ombudsman

by | Jan 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Here in Westchester County, New York, there are approximately 30 nursing homes. They vary in size from as few as 43 residents to others that exceed 200 residents. The quality of care fluctuates as well.  Some look pretty but don’t provide particularly noteworthy care and others look downright dismal but the care is quite good. Big or small, good care or not, all nursing homes, in Westchester County, and throughout the United States have an Ombudsman. He or she is the go to person when you have talked to the nursing home staff and a problem persists

 So what does an Ombudsman do? He or she is an advocate for nursing home residents. While as a geriatric care manager I will often sit down with nursing home personnel when a problem arises, not every resident has access to a geriatric care manager. But every resident and their family has the services of an Ombudsman available to them.  It’s the law!

The mandate for the Ombudsman came about as a result of the Older Americans Act, started in 1972. The goal continues to be to improve residents’ care and quality of life. To be a voice for residents and their families. In New York State, Ombudsmen attend a minimum of 36 hours of training before becoming certified. This training covers the aging process including common illnesses and conditions, the long term care setting, residents’ rights, communication, and the complaint process.

According to the Administration on Aging in 2011 the five most frequent nursing home facility complaints were:

  1.  Improper or inadequate discharge planning
  2.  Lack of respect for residents
  3.  Poor staff attitudes
  4.  Administration of medications
  5.  Resident conflict, including roommate to roommate

To this end, it is the responsibility of the Ombudsman to:

  1. Identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents
  2. Provide information to residents about long-term care services
  3. Represent the interests of residents before governmental agencies
  4. Seek administrative, legal and other remedies to protect residents

So how to you find out who your Ombudsman is?  Here in Westchester County, his or her name should be posted in the room of the resident or where other State mandated information is displayed. In the State of New York you can also go to: or call 1-800-342-9871.  This website will also direct you to Ombudsman Programs throughout the United States.


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