An ombudsman is, in general terms, an advocate or representative. A long-term care ombudsman is an advocate for residents of long-term care facilities. These facilities include nursing homes, assisted living and residential care facilities, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

An ombudsman visits these facilities on a regular basis and speaks with residents and staff regarding the residents' satisfaction with the facility and the care they are receiving there. Ombudsmen also can handle complaints from residents and their families involving a wide range of issues, including food, care, family conflicts and resident rights. The ombudsman can advocate on the behalf of the resident and their wishes, and can also help them speak up for themselves.

The ombudsman strives to work with facility staff and administration in order to resolve issues and find solutions for resident complaints. In addition, a local ombudsman can be a valuable resource regarding nursing home rules and regulations, how to choose and pay for long-term care, long-term care options counseling, and other issues related to long-term care.

Those who are residents of a long-term care facility, or have loved ones who are, and have questions or concerns can contact the local ombudsman office at any time. Call Scott Harding at 918-913-9582.

Any groups, such as a civic group or provider agency, that would like more information about the ombudsman program or long-term care issues, can have ombudsmen come out and give a presentation.

Ombudsman volunteers are sought to assist with the program. The next volunteer training is scheduled for Feb. 24-25 at the EODD office in Muskogee. For more information about the program or to attend a training session, contact Harding.

The Eastern Oklahoma Development District Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman program serves the following counties: Adair, Cherokee, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Sequoyah and Wagoner.

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