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Elder Rights

Under Title 42 of the United States Code (Public Health and Welfare), Congress created, among other things, several programs for older Americans. One of them was a provision for state Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs (42 USC § 3058g). Accordingly, even though federally-established and mandated, the program has been delegated to, and actually managed by, the states through block grants, special appropriations, foundation grants, etc.

Ombuds in this sector act as advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care facilities, and assisted living residential setups. They not only investigate complaints, but also provide information to help persons find an appropriate facility for care, and help them get quality care.

Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an ombudsman program to address concerns within long term care (LTC) system. These ombuds not only investigate complaints, but also are authorized to advocate for improvement in the system. The best way to find a particular state’s LTC ombudsman is to go to the online Web site of the National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center ( and click on any individual state. Another resource, MemberoftheFamily.Net (, provides information for approximately 16,000 Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing homes. It also maintains a National Watch List of homes recently cited for violations or substantiated complaints. Finally, it has an Honor Roll of facilities found to be deficiency-free.

Inside Elder Rights