Ombudsmen are extraordinary volunteers who come from all walks of life, with a passion for helping our vulnerable elderly & their family caregivers. 

Ombudsmen visit nursing homes & assisted living facilities each week to be the eyes & ears of the community.  When they visit, Ombudsmen meet administrators & staff and also make rounds to each resident to let them know what Ombudsmen can do to help.  They also offer guidance to residents & family caregivers on how to form councils to advise the nursing home management.

If residents have concerns, Ombudsmen are their advocates, addressing those concerns to administrators.  When Ombudsmen advocate on behalf of a resident, their purpose is to mediate between the resident & the facility, so that the resident can continue living comfortably.  If the situation cannot be resolved, Ombudsmen can assist residents to find alternative living arrangements.  Ombudsmen also play a role helping residents move from a facility back to either to their own homes or other independent living quarters.

Anyone who is concerned about the operation of long term care facilities can contact the Ombudsman Program at AACOG & request that an Ombudsman visit to investigate & resolve complaints made on behalf of residents. Ombudsmen also educate the public & facility staff on filing complaints, neglect & abuse issues, new laws governing facilities, & best practices for quality of care & evaluating long-term care options. 

The routine on-site presence of Ombudsmen builds awareness of their role for the elderly, establishes resident confidence, allows problems to be detected before they become serious, & promotes positive working relationships with facility administration, staff & families.  The regular presence of Ombudsmen has been identified as an important factor in improving quality of care & quality of life in nursing homes & assisted living facilities.

The AACOG / Bexar Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Program trains, certifies & supports volunteer Ombudsmen. For more information call 210-362-5236.

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Martha Spinks, Ph.D., MSW, Director of the Bexar Area Agency on Aging at AACOG.