GECAC will be closed on Friday, April 2nd in observance of Good Friday. Due to COVID-19, GECAC offices are closed to the public. The staff is serving clients via phone, email, and virtual. Go to our COVID-19 Guidance page for information on how to receive services.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Issue

Residents in long-term care facilities need to have an advocate to ensure their quality of life and quality of care. 

Our Impact


Whether through individual contact with residents or systemic advocacy, the Ombudsman makes a difference in the lives of residents in long-term care facilities.  Each year, GECAC's Ombudsman helps nearly 250 seniors and their families resolve issues. We believe all long-term care residents deserve dignity, support, and respect.

Overview

GECAC's Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents in long-term care facilities. Under the Federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system.

Family members feel comfort knowing that GECAC's Ombudsman is available to their loved ones for assistance when they are unable to intervene due to work, illness, or other family demands. Many residents are dealing with mental capacity issues, grief and loss, chronic medical conditions, and navigating the complicated long-term care system.

The basis of the Ombudsman program is the "expressed wish" of the resident. The Ombudsman educates residents about options available to resolve a complaint, encouraging personal empowerment. Options may include simply making a facility administrator aware of an issue, having a meeting with the facility, coordinating assistance with licensing entities, professional boards, and working with law enforcement with issues of criminal abuse. 

Our Long-Term Care Ombudsman:

  • Resolves complaints made by or for residents of long-term care facilitiesResident of Nursing Home
  • Educates consumers and long-term care providers about residents' rights and good care practices
  • Promotes community involvement through volunteer opportunities
  • Provides information to the public on long-term care facilities and services, residents' rights, and legislative and policy issues
  • Advocates for residents' rights and quality care in long-term care facilities
  • Promotes the development of family and resident councils
  • Provides assistance to agencies and members of community groups

Complaints an Ombudsman Can Address:

  • Staff are rough when providing care
  • Staff are discourteous
  • Not getting mail or phone calls
  • Questions about Medicare are not being answered
  • Wrong medications are given or at the wrong time
  • Nutrition and dietary concerns
  • Personal property is lost or stolen
  • They have not seen a physician in months
  • Discrimination against residents in the LGBTQ community
  • Activities are boring or the only activity is watching television
  • Heating or air conditioning problems
  • Inappropriate unsafe transfers and discharges
  • Slow response to call lights
  • Hearing aids and/or eyeglasses are missing
  • Residents rights are being ignored
  • Lack of participation in the care plan
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Inappropriate unsafe transfers and discharges
  • Issues with physical therapy

COVID-19 Information: 

  • Ombudsmen staff and volunteers are currently restricted from entering any long-term care facility. Staff Ombudsmen are available to speak with residents and family members via phone or email to help resolve complaints and ensure residents' quality of care. Call (814) 459-4581 Ext. 593 to speak with the Ombudsmen.

  • In response to the forced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virtual Family Council began in May 2020 as an online forum for families that could not have in-person visits with their loved ones living in long-term care facilities. Led by ombudsmen and family members, the biweekly meetings bring families and advocates together for sharing, support, and learning. The Virtual Family Council has received national attention and has become a model for other states looking to develop similar programs. To get Virtual Family Council connection information, email LTC-Ombudsman@pa.gov and in the subject line, indicate "Virtual Family Council".

  • In September 2020, CMS current guidance resumes a resident's right to visitors under the condition that the facility has had no new COVID-19 cases from transmission in the facility within the previous 14 days. Facilities can set limits on the number of visitors and length of visits, and go back to restricted visitation if the local COVID-19 positivity rate exceeds 10% or "any other relevant factor related to the COVID-19 PHE" so long as the limit is based on a "reasonable clinical or safety cause." The right to visit with ombudsman program representatives has also resumed.

 Enrollment

Anyone can access the Ombudsman, whether they are residents or potential residents, family members, individuals in the community, or friends. 

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Request More Info

Carolyn DiMattio
Program Coordinator
(814) 459-4581 Ext. 593
ombudsman@gecac.org