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  • Writer's pictureLori Williams

The Role of the Ombudsman in Advocating for Seniors' Care

If you’re a senior or family of a senior with questions or concerns about your nursing home or assisted living facility, a great resource to use is an ombudsman.

This is a mediator position that help residents free of charge in nursing homes and assisted living throughout the U.S. They protect residents’ safety, welfare, and health and make sure facilities are following regulations and held accountable.

As you might guess, this is a huge relief for families of residents! Yuri Martinez is an ombudsman in Tarrant County, Texas, and has advocated for senior residents for 12 years. She explains the ins and outs of her job, what the most common calls are for her service, and how they help seniors. Plus, she details how to become a volunteer if this speaks to your heart.

Topics discussed:

- What is an ombudsman

- Settling disputes for seniors

- Acting as an intermediary between facilities and seniors

- How to become an ombudsman

-The Older Americans Act

- Nursing homes / assisted living facilities

Takeaways from this episode:

- Rather than fixing problems, an ombudsman coordinates conflicts and holds all parties involved accountable - that they’re following standards and ensuring that the resident is getting proper care and services.

- They observe conditions in senior environments, searching for signs of lack of care, neglect, fall risks, and more.

- An ombudsman receives calls mostly about involuntary discharges or no longer being allowed in a senior living facility. This would then involve helping all parties understand proper procedures, reversing the discharge or starting appeals.

- Anyone in the U.S. can find an ombudsman by going online and searching by county. Facilities are also required to provide that information in an open, accessible area.

- To become an ombudsman, you must have a genuine interest in helping residents, be 18 or older, have reliable transportation, pass a background check, and complete 36-hour training.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Tarrant County LTC Ombudsman Program:

United Way of Tarrant County

1500 N Main, Suite 200, Fort Worth, TX 76164

Office: (817) 258-8104

National Ombudsman Resource Center:

Yuri Martinez, MSSW:

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