The Long Term Care Ombudsman responds to complaints and problems made by or on behalf of the residents in Ventura County’s long term care facilities. Residents, family members, visitors, staff members, and other concerned citizens are encouraged to contact the Ombudsman with their complaints and concerns. As Ombudsmen, we objectively investigate issues brought to our attention and then seek solutions that meet the needs and desire of the residents. Our goal is to solve as many problems onsite as possible, in order to best serve the residents.
All long term care facilities must display the Ombudsman poster listing the name and telephone number of the local Ombudsman program and a 24 hour crisis line number. Nursing homes are required to post 4 posters in conspicuous places within their facility and assisted living facilities and board and care homes must have one poster displayed onsite. Working with agencies, residents, and families, the ombudsman not only investigates and resolves problems, but also provides information, referral and consultations to individuals and facilities.
The ombudsman can help with concerns and problems concerning:
- Quality of care provided by facility (see section on Elder Abuse)
- Residents’ rights
- Dietary needs
- Financial issues
- Roommate issues
- Restraints – physical and chemical
- Transfer and discharge from facility
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Denial of services
Of the complaint investigations handled by the Ventura County Ombudsman Program each month, approximately 75% are resolved on site. The remaining 25% are formally filed with the appropriate regulatory agency, the California Department of Public Health – Certification and Licensing for skilled nursing facilities, or the Department of Social Services – Community Care Licensing, for residential care facilities for the elderly. Complaints are also filed with law enforcement and the District Attorney when necessary.
Typically, complaints come to the attention of state certified ombudsmen via:
- Direct observation while the Ombudsmen are on their regular, unannounced, and unscheduled, visits to their assigned facilities.
- Communication with the residents or their families while visiting the facilities.
- Emails and telephone calls into the Long Term Care Services office.
- All investigations are handled as privately as possible and confidentially. Anonymity is respected and all attempts are made to ensure that residents with concerns are not retaliated against for reporting their concerns.
Core principles of the Long-Term-Care Ombudsman Program in Complaint Handling are as follows:
- Complaints are primarily resident-driven. They begin with the resident, focus on the resident, and end with the resident. When someone else refers a complaint, the ombudsman determines to the extent possible, what the resident wants, before intervening.
- Complaints are confidential. Ombudsman representatives do not reveal the identity of a resident without written permission.
- Complaints call for empowerment. Ombudsman representatives provide information and encouragement to residents or complainants to act on their own behalf as much as possible.
- Though there are many persons involved in a resident’s care, the primary focus of the ombudsman is the resident her/himself.