June 20, 2019
Long-term care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other supported congregate setting is something that many people face for short-term rehabilitation or permanent residency for themselves or for a loved one. Concerns do arise, even in the best of facilities, for a variety of reasons. Residents often feel vulnerable, do not know the applicable rules, and are hesitant to advocate for their rights. But this does not have to be the case. Through education and advocacy, residents, their representatives, and others including the LTC Ombudsman Program can assist LTC facilities in providing the high-quality nursing home care and life residents deserve.
Justice in Aging attorney Eric Carlson, who has extensive experience in long-term care services and supports, has made available a guide on the 25 Common Nursing Home Problems and How to Resolve Them, updated from the original 20 Common Nursing Home Problems and How to Resolve Them financed by the Commonwealth Fund. For a free copy of the new guide, you can access this web page: https://www.justiceinaging.org/. The new guide addresses the 25 common problems in detail, relates the relevant revised federal regulations, and provides the tools needed to identify and resolve the problems that residents most frequently face. The common nursing home problems addressed include areas of poor care, evictions, Medicaid & Medicare-related issues, denial of resident rights, and admission & billing problems.
The Federal Nursing Home Reform Law, which has been phased in over 3 years and fully in force by Nov. 28, 2019, can be found in Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations from sections 483.1 through 483.95. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has a helpful website: https://theconsumervoice.org/ full of educational and advocacy information (including focus on the current regulations, fact sheets including Selecting a Nursing Home, an Advocacy Tool Kit, and this year’s October Resident’s Rights Month Theme “Stand for Quality”) with specialized sections for residents, family members and advocates.
Outside of using the “chain of command” within the nursing facility (department manager, social worker, administrator, resident council or family council) in resolving a concern, the long-term care ombudsman, mandated and funded by the federal Older American’s Act, is a resident advocate who investigates complaints made by or on behalf of a resident and assists residents in exercising their civil rights. Ombudsman also are available for information and referral, staff education, consultation to resident and family councils, and assisting with resolving systemic issues affecting resident populations. The WV Bureau of Senior Services contracts with Legal Aid of WV to provide ombudsman services to residents of long-term care facilities and those who may have difficulty accessing or maintaining those services. For more information you may check out our web page http://www.lawv.net/About-Us/Programs/Long-Term-Care-Ombudsman or call 1-800-834-0598.