Do you know what a Ombudsman is?

In life we learn the most from our experiences.  Here is one that we don’t think about much until it happens.  When it does you may need help in a very quick way.

Example:  A Father in Law has been caring for his wife who has Alzheimers for the past 10 years in their home.  He suffers a stroke, is rushed to the hospital.  They place a pace maker in him yet he has lost the use of his entire left side of  the body.  Now your faced with two parents who quickly need  care.  What do you do and where do you start to help them both. The following information is a quick reference when you need to make decisions.

Long Term Care Information: Do you know what an OMBUDSMAN is?

If you are searching for a long term care facility for a loved one then you need to know this information.  It will save you time and energy.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman

A LTC ombudsman is specially trained and represents people in a given geographical area who live in assisted living residences or skilled nursing facilities.  Ombudsmen make regular visits to facilities and investigate problems and complaints.  They are usually a good source of information about the differenct facilities in the area, particularly about a facility’s specific strengths and weaknesses.  Althought Ombudsmen are prohibited from recommending one facility over another, they may offer advice on what to look for when visiting and evaluating facilities.  They may also be able to supply such things as the latest state inspection reports or information about the number and types of complaints a facility may have received.

Start by explaining briefly the status of the person needing the care and ask if they can provide a list of care units based on your needs.  Take notes, ask for complaint records.

Google and search the word Ombudsman and put your state in the search.  You can then find the regional person in your area that you can call.  Call the local number.  The toll free number is the national office. Try to speak with the regional person if possible.

To get a glance at facilities in your area go to:www.medicare.gov.

Once you are at that site scroll down and go to:  Compare Nursing Homes, select your state and your city.  You will want to look at the “Over All” rating of the facility.

Click under the “What is this”? to understand how the rating is obtained.

NOTE: The Quality Measures Rating is the Nursing Facility rating itself.  Don’t depend on those.  It’s self reported.  We have seen Facilities give themselves a 4 or 5 star yet the Health Inspection and Over All rating is a 1.

5. Star system.  The more stars the better.

All nursing homes are required to do a Criminal Background Check by Federal Law.

3. visits recommended for the same facility.  1 Scheduled, 2 unannounced at any meal time and 1 in the evening.

Ask to see where they Wash and Bath.

Look at the Rehab room or ask if they are licensed for Rehab.  If they are not then they will bring in someone.  That means they won’t have much equipment if they are not licensed for Rehab.

Ask, “what is the turn over ratio of staff”?  There is a required posting of On Duty Nurses.  They can also use nurses to do paperwork so dig deeper.  If they post 10 Nurses on duty, ask how many of these are doing paperwork or skills that do not interact with the patients currently. If they say 4 then you have 6 nurses full time dealing with patients of the 10 they post.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia may require a special care facility depending on the condition and stage of the patient.

Many units today require a certain amount of Self Pay and then will transition to Medicaid. Ask if each facility can do both.  This is very important. If they don’t then they may be moving in the future as money or health diminishes.

You may need assessments of the patient from the State, the accepting facility and a doctor so be ready to line up what is required.  The ombudsman or the accepting facility can advise you on those requirements.

One last thing that comes to mind, we have noticed a particular pattern regarding the quality of care and rating of these Long Term Care Facilities.  The pattern is, the Care facilities in the smaller towns have better ratings.  The care for your loved one is the most important thing.  Not the distance you have to drive to see them.  Be open to looking in the smaller areas that are 20 to 40 miles away from you if needed.  The public ratings bare this out as you search the website listed above.

It can be overwhelming, emotional, stressful, as you make decisions for your loved ones.

When you walk into the facility does the staff greet you?  Do they engage you from the beginning?  Do other staff members greet you as you pass them or do they acknowledge you with a smile?  Why is this so important?  If they won’t do it to you as a guest, then there is a strong possibility they may not show the interaction and care needed with the ones they are caring for daily.

Lastly, Pray for Wisdom and do this at the very start of the process.

If you need our help then call or email us.  This is just one service of many that we provide for our clients.  We are a resource when you need it the most.

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