Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Issue

Residents in long-term care facilities sometimes have questions about their rights or concerns regarding their quality of care or quality of life.

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.


Ombudsmen work to resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of individuals who live in licensed long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, or who receive long-term care services in the community.

An Ombudsman is someone who cares and can help. Your information will be kept confidential and the program's services are provided at no cost.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Ombudsmen are specially trained and certified and have authority under Pennsylvania law to identify, investigate and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, long-term care facility residents. Ombudsmen are advocates for the residents of these facilities. Our priority is to protect the rights of long-term care residents and ensure residents receive fair treatment and appropriate care by:

  • Making routine, unannounced facility visits
  • Identifying, investigating, and resolving complaints
  • Ensuring residents are receiving individualized care to meet their needs
  • Educating residents, families, and staff about residents' rights and facility regulations

Ombudsman Brochure

Complaints an Ombudsman Can Address

  • Staff are rough when providing care
  • Staff are discourteous
  • Not receiving 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 therapy

Residents' Rights Monthresident-rights-month.jpg

October is Residents' Rights Month, an annual event designated by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities and those receiving care in their home or community. It is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate the dignity and rights of every individual receiving long-term services and supports.Being a part of a community is essential to our well-being.  Throughout the pandemic, residents of long-term care facilities were disconnected from the resident and staff communities within their facilities when activities and group dining were limited.  Residents were disconnected from the broader local community when visitation was restricted and many residents were unable to leave their facilities to participate in outside activities. This year's Residents' Rights Month theme - Inspiring Unity within Our Community - emphasizes the importance of fostering meaningful community within the facility and encouraging residents' connection to their local community.

COVID-19 Information

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of staffing for the well-being of residents. CMS has released information related to staffing as well as other information to help in your search for quality care in nursing homes. To find this new information, you can go to the Care Compare website. Enter the nursing home location and name, then scroll down and open "View Staffing Information" or any of the other informational tabs.

  • The Pennsylvania State Ombudsman Program launched the Virtual Family Council 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. To get Virtual Family Council connection information, email LTC-Ombudsman@pa.govand in the subject line, indicate "Virtual Family Council".

  • On December 23, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their Nursing Home visitation guidance: visitation must still be permitted despite rising cases and residents' federal right to make choices about their lives in a facility and their right to visitation. Vaccination is strongly encouraged though not required and extra precautions for reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission are suggested including:  providing dedicated indoor space for visitation, visiting when a roommate is not available, outdoor visitation, offering visitors surgical or K95 masks, restricting movement in the facility to the visitation location, increasing air flow and ventilation, cleaning and sanitizing after visits, not conducting visits in common areas, and posting reminders about COVID-19 infection prevention practices in common areas.

    See CMS' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for further clarification.

Nursing Home Visitation Guidance


You may contact us in writing, by phone, online, or in-person by appointment. The consent of the resident or responsible party is necessary before any contact with facility staff. All information is private and confidential.

Phone: (814) 459-4581 ext. 593

Email: ombudsman@gecac.org

Greater Erie Community Action Committee
Ombudsman Program
18 West 9th Street
Erie, PA 16501

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Carolyn DiMattio
(814) 459-4581 Ext. 593