Ensuring the Best Possible Care
The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is responsible for monitoring the quality of care for residents in long-term care facilities.
What we do
Dedicated volunteers and staff comprise the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Long-term care home ombudsmen are trained and certified by the State of Texas to participate in nursing home open hearings, research complaints and ensure the best possible care for the residents of long-term facilities throughout the Texoma Region.
Supporting the Rights of Residents
After moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility, a resident may need help to continue a life of dignity, respect, choice and as much independence as possible. An ombudsman can help ensure that the residents get the care they want and are treated with the dignity they deserve. They support and protect the health, safety and rights of residents.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman program
Long-term care (LTC) ombudsmen are advocates for resident rights.
They help protect the quality of life and quality of care of anybody who lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Ombudsmen can be volunteers or paid employees of agencies that are independent of any long-term care facility. Services are free, confidential and available statewide.
Call 1 (800) 252-2412 to speak with an LTC Ombudsman in your area.
Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
The Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman is independent of the Texas Health and Human Services system. This ensures the state ombudsman and all program representatives advocate for resident interests. Ombudsmen work to solve individual problems and to change policy and law to protect residents.
Qualities of a Long-Term Care Ombudsman
A long-term care ombudsman:
- Visits residents
- Offers ideas and options
- Helps resolve concerns that affect residents
- Supports resident and family councils
- Promotes resident-directed care
- Protects resident rights (contact this office for a complete list of resident rights
- Respects resident choices and independence
- Informs government agencies and the public about the interests and needs of residents
- Advocates for resident-focused laws and regulations
- Helps a resident when a facility plans to discharge them
How do I become an LTC Ombudsman?
People who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may have little or no contact with the outside world. Many feel they lack control over their lives.
A volunteer LTC ombudsman who visits regularly can be the highlight of a resident's day and ensure residents get good care.
If you have a passion for helping others, a caring spirit and a willingness to learn, we need you! Become an ombudsman and help improve the quality of life and care for residents in a facility near you. We provide training, tools and ongoing support.
Contact us today for more information plus time and dates for training.Find out more at hhs.gov
Frequently Asked Questions
- Nursing home or assisted living facility residents
- Family members or friends of residents
- Facility employees who are concerned about a resident
- Any person interested in the welfare of residents
- Someone considering long-term care placement
No. Ombudsmen help resolve issues and investigate complaints, but they do not regulate facilities.
Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) licenses and certifies facilities, including assisted living facilities and nursing homes. HHS staff inspects, surveys, makes follow-up visits and complaint investigations and other visits to ensure these facilities are operating according to state and federal regulations. Staff, known as surveyors:
- Determine if facilities meet minimum standards, if conditions endanger health and safety, or if poor practices are being followed
- Check that facilities have corrected past problems
- Investigate complaints
Ombudsmen can help resolve complaints about many aspects of long-term care. They work to uphold the rights of residents, including those facing an involuntary transfer or discharge.
Ombudsmen work closely with residents to address complaints. The resident decides the ombudsman's level of involvement in resolving the complaint. We collect facts about the complaint first. Ombudsmen then suggest options for resolution to the resident. The ombudsman works with the resident to resolve the problem and will follow up to confirm continued resolution. Ombudsmen can work with family and friends of residents too. Some concerns an ombudsman can address include:
- Violation of residents' rights
- Poor quality of care, including inadequate personal hygiene and slow response to requests for help
- Improper transfer or discharge
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints
- Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life
- Support to residents who are abused or neglected
- Tips for residents and their families in addressing complaints and concerns
Residents have the same rights as people who don't live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. This includes the right to:
- Be treated with respect, dignity and consideration
- Exercise their rights and civil liberties as a resident of Texas and citizen of the United States and observe their religious beliefs
- Confidentiality of personal and clinical records
- Be informed of their medical condition and participate in treatment planning
- Plan activities in the facility
- Choose their own attending physician and the source of pharmacy service
- Be free from mental, physical, or verbal abuse and chemical and physical restraints
- Have privacy, including visits with anyone of their choice in or outside of the facility, mail and telephone services, participation in resident council activities, access to their records and access to state inspection reports
- Be told about Medicaid or Medicare services and informed of other items or services and any costs that may be charged
- Not be transferred or discharged without cause and notice
- Be treated without discrimination regardless of source of payment
- Make complaints and express grievances without fear of discrimination or reprisal
- Manage personal and financial affairs and make choices and independent decisions
- Issue advance directives, including directive to physician, medical power of attorney, and out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate
- Know your rights.
- Tell the nursing home or assisted living facility staff of concerns as soon as possible. Follow up with the appropriate staff.
- Be familiar with your admission agreement, resident handbook, facility policies and other information provided at move-in.
- As a resident, stay involved with family and friends. Make them aware of your care and activities.
- Understand and use the care planning process. Ask for a care plan or service plan meeting and invite your ombudsman if you need help.
- Participate actively in the facility's resident council. Your family is encouraged to participate in the family council. The voice of many residents can be more influential than one person. The facility should:
- provide private space to meet;
- designate staff to assist and respond to written requests; and
- listen to the views and act upon grievances and recommendations affecting resident care and life.
- Consult your physician with any concerns about medical care. A physician directs the medical care of each resident.
- Support community involvement and interaction. You have the right to participate in activities in and out of the facility.
- Talk to your ombudsman and HHS surveyors when they visit.
There are several levels of intervention, and attempts to resolve problems may be informal or formal, inside or outside of the facility. The following options can happen one at a time or simultaneously.
- Talk with staff in the facility.
- Ask for a facility grievance form and turn in a written grievance.
- Call or write to the owner of the home.
- Bring your concern to the resident council if you are a resident.
- Bring your concern to the family council if you are family or a friend of the resident.
- Call an LTC ombudsman for help with any of these options, or to work on the problem with you. Find an ombudsman.
- Contact the Office of the State LTC Ombudsman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-252-2412.
- Contact Consumer Rights and Services at DADS (Regulatory) at 1-800-458-9858 or email a complaint to CRSComplaints@dads.state.tx.us.