The decision to put an elderly loved one in a nursing home is not easy. You may vet many homes carefully before deciding on the facility that you expect will provide your loved one with the best care for their needs. Unfortunately, even nursing homes that seem good on the surface can negligently hire staff members that take advantage of their situation and abuse residents. New Jersey has a Long Term Ombudsman program that advocates for residents of nursing homes who allege abuse or neglect.
What does the Ombudsman’s office do?
The Ombudsman’s office accepts complaints, which are kept confidential and can be anonymous. The office will investigate these complaints with the goal of reaching a resolution. If a resolution cannot be met, the issue will be sent to the appropriate regulatory entity for further action. The Ombudsman’s office can conduct hearings and subpoena documents and testimony. The Ombudsman’s office has unrestricted access to long-term care facility records. Finally, the Ombudsman’s office works as a partner to residents with the aim of empowering them to advocate for themselves.
What happens if I file a complaint with the Ombudsman’s office?
After filing a complaint with the Ombudsman’s office, an investigator will arrive to the facility unannounced and have a discussion with the resident at issue to obtain their consent to move forward. With this consent, a review of the acts will be made, interviews of staff and witnesses will be obtained as will any relevant documents.
If the investigator verifies or suspects the situation involves elder abuse or neglect, the investigator’s findings will be sent to the appropriate entity for further action. Some types of abuse include financial exploitation, the wrongful use of chemical or physical restraints, poor quality of care, and physical, verbal or mental abuse.
Can anyone seek help from the Ombudsman’s office?
The Ombudsman’s services are free to those who qualify. The Ombudsman’s office will accept complaints from:
- Assisted living facilities;
- Intermediate care facilities;
- Long-term acute care hospitals;
- Nursing homes;
- Psychiatric hospitals;
- Residential healthcare facilities;
- Independent living sections of retirement communities; and
- Veterans’ hospitals.
It is important to note that this list is not all-exhaustive; there are other facilities the Ombudsman will accept complaints from not listed here.
We want our elderly loved ones to receive good care so they can live out their final years in comfort. It is important for New Jersey residents to know that if their loved one suffers nursing home abuse have options for addressing the situation.