Ombudsman Program cut dramatically in California. With these cuts, you need to be more proactive about protecting your loved ones in nursing homes.
I don’t know if you know about a service that is provided free of charge to our nursing home residents. It is something called an ombudsman. (I have used the services of the Ventura County Ombudsman program when my aunt was in a nursing home.) The ombudsman is a specially trained person who protects the resident from being forced to sign something they don’t understand, protects them from elder abuse and protects them when they are receiving sub-standard care. I will be interviewing Molly Davies from the Los Angeles County Ombudsman Program, The WISE & Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, in August but I just wanted to let people in the Los Angeles area know about the effects of the budget cuts today. The office is down to 10 people who are protecting the 73,000 nursing home residents in Los Angeles County nursing homes. If you have a loved one in a nursing home in California, you need to be even more diligent about visiting and checking on your loved ones for the rest of this year. Hopefully, next years budget will better but for now, we all have to take on the role of the protector for our loved ones. Here is the statement from the Los Angeles County office.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Impact of the Governor’s Budget Reduction
The impact of the enacted 49% State budget cut to the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) in California is devastating to the integrity of the services that are delivered and will negatively impact the residents that we serve. The WISE & Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the sole contractor of Ombudsman Services in the City and the County of Los Angeles. The impact to this local program has been the loss of $1,109,783 in funding retroactive to July 1, 2008. In response we have eliminated 22 positions resulting in the reduction of staff from 32 to 10, and we have closed our Lancaster, Downtown LA, Burbank, and San Dimas regional offices. All remaining staff received a reduction in salary.
The following are conservative projected estimates of the reduction of our capability to deliver service to residents in long-term care.
Over 12,000 unannounced visits to nursing homes and board and care or assisted living facilities will not be conducted during this fiscal year, and every year thereafter.
Over 11,500 cases, including allegations of abuse and neglect will not be investigated during this fiscal year, and every year thereafter.
The LTCOP in California has three currently unfunded mandates that include the investigation of elder and dependant adult abuse investigations that occur in long-term care settings; the witnessing of advance health care directives for residents in skilled nursing facilities; and responding to the 24-hour State Ombudsman after-hours crisis line. Although these are unfunded mandates, we have managed to take on these tasks with out further compensation from the State of California, but may not be able to sustain these activities without restoration of our funding.
In the last fiscal year the WISE & Healthy Aging Ombudsman Program responded to 2,086 abuse complaints. Many elder abuse cases are identified during unannounced visits conducted by Ombudsmen, which will decrease proportionally with these enacted budget cuts.
The WISE & Healthy Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the largest in the nation providing service to more than 1,816 facilities that have the capacity to care for 73,486 residents. The Ombudsman Program advocates for the rights of residents in long-term care facilities, and for many residents we are the only outside support they receive. The impact of these cuts effectively silences the voices of our most vulnerable constituents, residents in long-term care.
You may want to support the pending legislation AB 394 (Feuer and Jones) Protecting Vulnerable Seniors from Abuse and Neglect by Restoring Ombudsman Funding
AB 392 would use penalties paid by substandard nursing homes to help restore monitoring and advocacy by ombudsman programs. It is fitting that the penalty funds be used to support the ombudsman programs given their critical role in protecting residents’ health and safety.
Current law allows the penalty funds to be appropriated for ombudsman services. AB 392 would require that at least half of the penalty funds be allocated to local ombudsman programs each year in accordance with an existing formula.
Support AB 392 is co-sponsored by CANHR and the following organizations: AARP, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, California Senior Legislature, California Commission on Aging, Catholic Charities of California, Congress of California Seniors, and Ombudsman & HICAP Services of Northern California. Additionally, it is supported by local ombudsman programs and many other consumer organizations.
You may want to write or call your state senators.
Want More Information?
Use www.leginfo.ca.gov to find contact information for your Senator • and Assembly Member
and to keep track of AB 392’s progress.
• Visit CANHR’s website (www.canhr.org) for updates on all of CANHR’s legislation and to find
out how to become a CANHR Advocate.
• Call CANHR @ (800) 474-1116.
Have a kind and respectful day.