Crow Wing Energized: Advocates serve Minnesotans in long-term care
Ombudsman (pronounced “Om-budz-muhn”) is a Swedish word for “Representative of the People.”
In our country, the word has come to be known as “advocate” or “helper.” The Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care is a valuable resource for any Minnesotan receiving long-term care services in a nursing home or assisted living facility or even for people receiving licensed long-term care services at home. The program is a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging. The regional ombudsman advocates for people who receive long-term care services and supports.
Regional ombudsman, based in offices around the state, help individuals resolve their concerns regarding the long-term care and series they receive. This is done in a manner that supports person-directed living, respecting the individual’s values, preferences and rights. The regional ombudsman also works with families, friends, health care and service providers, as well as public and other agencies to promote health, safety and well-being and rights of people receiving long-term care services.
Regional ombudsmen work with resident and family councils in nursing homes and assisted living homes. Resident councils are independent, organized groups of people living in a long-term care facility who meet on a regular basis to discuss concerns, give suggestions on improving services or resolving differences in their home. It allows residents to advocate as a group to solve problems. Ombudsmen are available to work with residents, resident councils, family councils and staff to teach about resident rights, prevention of abuse and empowerment through self-advocacy.
Ombudsman services are free of charge. They can investigate and resolve complaints about quality of care or services, quality of life, rights violations, access to services, service termination, discharge or eviction and public benefit programs. Other examples of cases include call light response, staffing issues, residents being improperly discharged and care plans not being followed. Financial exploitation and abuse of residents are also common cases.
In addition to working on individual complaints, ombudsmen can also provide information and consultation to individuals and facility staff about consumer rights, service options, and facilities regulations. Ombudsmen work on behalf of the person receiving long-term care services and are advocates for the individual’s goals.
People receiving long-term care services who have concerns or questions may call The Office of Ombudsman for Long Term Care at the toll-free number 1-800-657-3591 or the intake line at 651-431-2555.
The ombudsman office is not an emergency service and is separate from adult protections systems in the state. If ombudsman support is needed, calls are routed to the regional ombudsman.
Whenever possible the regional ombudsman comes right to the nursing home, assisted living, or other home to meet with residents in person to talk about their concerns. If the call is not something within the work done by the office then callers will receive an appropriate referral to the correct agency.
Ombudsmen are well trained in nursing home and assisted living laws. They also train a group of volunteer ombudsmen who advocate for quality of life and services through regular visits at skilled nursing facilities and assisted living buildings round the state and help extend the reach of the advocacy of the office. Community members who want to learn more about becoming a volunteer may also call the toll-free number for more information.
Meet your regional ombudsman
Jane Brink is the regional ombudsman serving people receiving long term care in all of Crow Wing County and the surrounding counties of Cass, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. Brink has been a regional ombudsman for 34 years. She is certified as a person-centered trainer, and has expertise in working with people to help them achieve their individual goals for a better quality of life and better quality of care. Brink may be reached directly at 218-855-8587.