formats

Seeking the help of an Ombudsman

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: For several years, my elderly mother was able to remain in her own home with the help of private pay aides. It became clear this was not going to be an option long term due to cost and her physical deterioration. I spent considerable time touring facilities and finally chose a place for her. The building is clean, neat and well furnished. However, we then noticed my mother’s hearing aids and dentures were lost. A few other issues have arisen, and I don’t quite know how to handle all of this. Is there anyone that can give me advice?

A: In Massachusetts, there are Ombudsman Programs that cover long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and individuals in the community. At Elder Services, our Ombudsman staff perform many essential duties, including being an advocate for residents and serving as a mediator between a facility and residents. In a long-term care setting, the Ombudsman attempts to resolve problems that may be related to health, welfare, and the rights of a resident. During this pandemic, Ombudsmen have continued their work even if they were unable to visit residents in the facilities.

Ombudsmen receive training to resolve issues for the resident or their legal representatives. Residents may have tried to resolve the issue on their own before reaching out to an Ombudsman. Other times, the resident or family will contact an Ombudsman first because they are hesitant to deal with the facility’s management.

Once notified of a complaint, the Ombudsman has the right to meet with the resident privately and keeps all information confidential. Information is only released if the resident decides to share it with the management of the facility. Carefully document the issues and contact the Ombudsman program in the town where your mother now resides by calling 800-243-4636. Hopefully, everyone will be able to agree on how to resolve your issues with the help of an Ombudsman.

Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email ageinfo@esmv.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.