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Ask an Aging Expert: What is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?

You may have heard this term if you have ever been in a nursing facility or assisted living facility. The term “Ombudsman” is a Swedish word meaning agent, representative, or someone who speaks on behalf of another. There are Ombudsmen in many different areas and age groups. Here in Utah, we have Long-term Care Ombudsman.

According to the National Consumer voice, “Long-term care Ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities.” Ombudsmen typically help resolve complaints made by residents of these facilities, provide education about resident’s rights, advocate for resident’s rights, and help promote the organization of resident and family councils within a facility.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program originally started in 1972 and was a response to many reports of resident abuse in nursing homes across the country. Throughout the next several decades, the program was strengthened and clarified by congress. There is a State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and then each county or region has representatives of the office, known as Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman. In Southwest Utah, this program is housed in the Area Agency on Aging- Five County.

If you or a loved one is ever in a nursing or assisted living facility and feel like you need someone to advocate for your rights, do not hesitate to reach out to the office of Ombudsman. We are here for you!

Kelly Reeder is the Options Counselor and Lead Long Term Care Ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging- Five County, a position she has held for almost a year.

Kelly has spent the last ten years in the mental health field and most recently as a case manager for the long-term care Medicaid program. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University in 2015.

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