If you have a family member who lives in a nursing home, there are people in your corner who can help ensure that the staff provides a safe and healthy environment. These are the advocates and field investigators from the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.
According to the NJLTCO, ombudsman services include advocating for nursing home residents, providing them with resources to advocate for themselves and investigating complaints. If you already have a complaint, here is how an ombudsman can help.
Cases the NJLTCO investigates
You can report any problem to the NJLTCO, and a field investigator or advocate will look into it and work to resolve it. However, most cases involve some kind of abuse or rights violations, such as:
- Physical, mental or verbal abuse
- Unreasonable confinement or inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints
- Inadequate care, slow responses to requests for help or deprivation of services
- Violations of a resident’s dignity
- Improper discharge
- Financial exploitation
If you suspect abuse, but you do not have any evidence, the ombudsman is the right person to call. Any evidence of abuse or suspicion that the resident is in immediate danger warrants an immediate call to emergency services and/or law enforcement.
Ways that investigators seek resolution
The investigator who the NJLTCO supervisor assigns to the case will make an unannounced visit to the nursing home. He or she must obtain consent to proceed from the resident, and then can gather records and other documents, and conduct interviews with the staff and witnesses. You will be able to provide information and discuss your suspicions.
The investigator reviews all the facts and then seeks to resolve the situation to the resident’s satisfaction. If there is evidence of abuse, neglect or exploitation, the investigator takes this to law enforcement and/or a regulatory agency for further action.