Residents in long-term care facilities sometimes have questions about their residents' rights and concerns regarding their quality of care, and quality of life.
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
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
National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Month
October is National Long-Term Care Residents' Rights Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices many long-term care (LTC) residents have made to better our community and to call attention to the rights of residents in long-term care facilities. The theme for Residents' Rights Month 2021 is - "Reclaiming My Rights, My Home, My Life"– to acknowledge the impact of this past year on residents, and highlight the need for residents' rights to be recognized, recovered, and reasserted. It emphasizes the recognition of the long-term care facility as the residents' home, and the importance of residents reclaiming their own lives. The theme focuses on raising awareness of federally mandated residents' rights while also underscoring the need for dignity and self-determination of all residents.
Residents' Rights Month is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the rights of each resident. The federal Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees residents' rights and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity, choice, and self-determination. The law also requires nursing homes to "promote and protect the rights of each resident". Residents' Rights Month is a time to raise awareness of these rights and celebrate residents.
- 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".
- According to the March 20, 2021, updated CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) guidance, facilities should allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents, regardless of vaccination status of the resident or visitor unless certain scenarios arise that would limit visitation for unvaccinated residents: if the COVID-19 county positivity rate is greater than 10 percent and less than 70 percent of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated; Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, until they have met the criteria to discontinue transmission-based precautions; or Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.
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
Greater Erie Community Action Committee
18 West 9th Street
Erie, PA 16501