Deborah Adams, Managing Local Ombudsman, shared information about her role with TOCG (Texoma Council of Governments) and the duties of ombudsman volunteers.  An ombudsman advocates for quality of life and care for people  living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
      The Ombudsman program was established in 1972.  It falls under the Older Americans Act which was originally enacted in 1965.
      Each state has an ombudsman in the Capital and then there are representatives under that person.  Texas has 28 regions.  Grayson, Cooke and Fannin Counties is one region.  There are 21 nursing homes in our region with more to come.  There are also 19 assisted living centers.
      Residents of Texas nursing facilities have all the rights, benefits, responsibilities, and privileges granted by the Constitution and laws of this state and the United States.  They have the rights to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination, and reprisal in exercising these rights as citizens of the United States.
      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.
      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.
      A long-term care (LTC) ombudsman listens.  They visit residents, offer ideas and options, help resolve concerns that affect residents and supports resident and family councils.  They promote resident-directed care and protect resident rights.  They respect resident choices and independence.  They inform government agencies and the public about the interests and needs of residents.  They advocate for resident-focused laws and regulations.  They also help residents when a facility plans to discharge them.
      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. They provide training, tools and ongoing support.
      Ombudsman services are free, confidential and available statewide.  For more information, visit www.tcog.com/aging-services/long-term-care-ombudsman.