Technical Assistance
 

 

Ombudsman Program

The Ombudsman Program of the Area Agency on Aging of East Texas functions under the rules of the Texas State Ombudsman Program, and specific State and Federal laws. The purpose of the program is to provide advocacy for quality of life and quality of care for residents in long-term care settings such as nursing home, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Service is provided to residents, families and facility staff in resolving issues and enhancing long term care plans.

The Ombudsman Program funded by Title III of the Older Americans Act and special funding by the Texas Department on Aging and Disability provides advocacy services for residents in long term care facilities in the East Texas Council of Governments’ fourteen counties
 
Services are given to the 79 nursing homes and 74 assisted living facilities. The Managing Local Ombudsman is responsible for the program which includes training and oversight of the staff and volunteers, ombudsman activities, certification training, and on-going training to certified ombudsman volunteers, recruitment, management and recognition of volunteers. Staff and volunteers resolve nursing home and assisted living complaints, assist in resolving other nursing home and assisted lving facility issues, support resident and family’s councils, and provide in-service and information to the long term care facilities.
 
Designated staff ombudsmen are assigned to certain counties and are responsible for the ombudsman activities in their areas. Volunteers are a vital part of the Ombudsman Program. The volunteers work co-operatively with regional staff ombudsmen following required training and certification. As needed, they act as back up to staff ombudsmen. Following initial certification training, continued education training of 12 hours annually is required of both staff and volunteers. This is usually in the local area for the volunteers and in Austin at the Department on Aging and Disability Services for the staff.
  

Philosophy of Care 

Persons who are unable to care for themselves are entitled to dependable and consistent care that includes:
  • A safe and healthy environment
  • Satisfaction of nutritional needs
  • Medical service, including
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Psychosocial
  • An environment that promotes and maintains the individual’s
    • Dignity
    • Self-determination
    • Communication
    • Protection of individual rights

 

Service Access 
Services are accessed in a multitude of ways. A toll-free number is provided nationally and through the hot line at the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Requests may be received by phone, accessing the web site or employee email address or contacting the State Ombudsman Program in Austin. Volunteers weekly visit residents at assigned facilities and receive and respond to complaints. Although staff do not make weekly visits, they visit all the facilities in the geographical area of the Area Agency on Aging of East Texas on a quarterly basis at a minimum.
 
Upon receipt of a complaint or issue, the request is route to the appropriate staff ombudsman for handling. All complaints are confidential and brought to the attention of facility staff only with permission. Strict confidentiality is maintained with all resident information.
 
Staff are also available to assist residents, families and others with information about long-term placement and availability of appropriate care facilities. This is not an easy decision and is usually faced by families in crisis. The staff ombudsman is available to assist with objective and accurate information. 
 

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