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Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

What is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program?

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, as mandated by the Federal Older Americans Act, is intended to improve the quality of life for people who live in licensed long-term care facilities.

Residents in long-term care facilities are guaranteed certain rights by federal and state laws and regulations. The purpose of the program is to protect and promote these rights in long-term care facilities and assist in empowering residents to become self-advocates. To view a short video clip, please click here.

What does an Ombudsman do?

An Ombudsman is a staff member or volunteer who listens to concerns and questions and works with residents, families, staff, local, and state agencies and other organizations to resolve problems or answer questions. Your ombudsman will:
  • Advocate for the rights of residents in long-term care facilities
  • Provide an effective means for the resolution of concerns about the quality of life in long-term care facilities
  • Work with residents, families, operators, and staff of facilities to meet the needs and concerns of those who live there
  • Monitor laws, regulations, and policies which affect those who live in long-term care facilities
  • Provide public education to promote a better understanding about the use of long-term care facilities
  • Help residents, family, staff, and operators of facilities to establish a resident or family council

Who can use the Ombudsman program?

  • Residents of nursing homes, boarding homes, adult family homes, and veteran’s homes
  • Relatives and friends of residents in long-term care facilities
  • Administrators and employees of long-term care facilities
  • Any group or individual concerned about the welfare of residents of long-term care facilities
  • The community at-large

Why do residents and their families need an Ombudsman?

  • Many frail and vulnerable residents cannot speak up for their needs and desires
  • Some residents are alone and have no close relatives or regular visitors
  • Long-distance caregivers appreciate knowing someone is looking out for their loved ones

Know Your Rights

A facility should care for its residents in a manner and in an environment that promotes maintenance or enhancement of each resident’s quality of life. A resident should have a safe, clean, comfortable, and homelike environment. Residents’ rights in a long-term care facility are, in brief:

  • To be informed of your rights, the rules and policies of the facility, and to be told of all services available and all costs, including those charges covered or not included in the basic rate
  • To be informed of your health condition, to participate in planning care and treatment or refuse any treatment, and to have your personal and medical records treated as confidential
  • To be transferred or discharged only after written notice is given and only for increased medical needs, health and safety or non-payment
  • To be encouraged to exercise your rights as a resident and citizen; to complain and suggest without fear of coercion or retaliation
  • To manage your financial affairs, or, if this is delegated, to receive regular accounting
  • To be free of mental and physical abuse and of chemical and physical restraints
  • To participate in social, religious, and community activities, as possible
  • To have your own clothing and possessions and be allowed to use them as space permits
  • To have privacy for visits and telephone calls, and to send and receive personal mail unopened

Contact the LTC Ombudsman Program

To use the Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program, or to inquire about becoming a LTC Ombudsman, call the State LTC Ombudsman Program at 1-800-562-6028 or at Skagit County Community Action Agency, (360) 416-7585 or (360) 421-1080