To the editor,
Today more than 150,000 New Yorkers live in nursing homes or adult care facilities. Each person’s story of how they became a resident is different, but they all have one thing in common--the right to quality of life and quality of care while residing in a long-term care facility.
The New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (www.ltcombudsman.ny.gov) is available in all long term care facilities across the state to assist individuals in keeping their sense of identity, self-worth, and ability to make choices regarding the care they are receiving. The ombudsman program is resident directed and resident centered. Ombudsmen provide help to individuals and their families to understand and exercise their right to appropriate care in a safe environment that promotes and protects their dignity and quality of life in the facility they now call “home.”
Ombudsmen are certified volunteers who provide a regular presence in facilities. Because of this regular presence, they are able to get to know residents, their needs, and those things that make a difference in their everyday lives. For residents without any family or loved ones, the ombudsman may be their only socialization from outside the facility and also may be the only advocate they have. The ombudsman becomes a “voice for the voiceless” and a lifeline for those who need assistance when they feel like they have no one to turn to. They are able to educate and empower residents and their families so they can advocate for themselves, or assist with investigating and resolving complaints on their behalf if this is the resident’s wish. Ombudsmen are committed to maintaining resident confidentiality, which is a cornerstone of the program. They represent residents and work on their behalf with facility administrators, staff, and family members to achieve a satisfactory resolution of their complaint and improve their quality of life.
Recent media coverage of concerns at Pontiac Nursing Home in Oswego has reinforced the need for residents in any long-term facility to be aware of their rights and who they can turn to for assistance. If you know if anyone who may benefit from the services of a Long Term Care Ombudsman, please contact the regional office at ARISE at 315-671-5108.