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Ombudsmen Persist in Efforts to Bring About Positive Change for Florida’s Long-Term Care Facility Residents

By Jim Crochet
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

I wish to bring to your attention inaccurate information that has been floating around regarding the operation of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and the work of the program’s 300 plus volunteers. Some of you may be aware of two recent opinion pieces run in the Treasure Coast (TC) Palm titled “Families Feel Powerless Against Elder Abuse” and “Our Seniors are at Even Greater Risk.” I would like to clarify some information written in these opinion pieces.

The duties, responsibilities, and advocacy work of the program has not changed. Ombudsman volunteers continue to protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents living in long-term care facilities. Our office receives numerous letters of thanks for the work performed by our ombudsmen. One letter stated, “As mediators and problem-solvers, they have been invaluable. Thanks to their efforts, the lives of our loved ones are better.”

It would be a shame if that fine work was stained by inaccurate information in an attempt to derail our program.

There are over 168,000 beds in Florida’s long-term care facilities with residents served by countless donated hours of our selfless volunteer ombudsmen. Since May 2011, our volunteer numbers have increased 25% statewide and have remained steady over the past year. In the Treasure Coast District, which serves Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties, where this opinion piece was published, ombudsmen volunteer numbers are up by 200 percent.

As always, when we receive complaints, we respond. Statewide, this office received over 7,873 complaints this year. Volunteers donated over 21,532 hours on complaint investigations.

And the year is far from over.

Since the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program was founded in 1975, our mission has always focused on the real issues that affect Florida’s elders: neglect, abuse, scams, age discrimination, residents’ rights, exploitation, safety, and welfare. Through the ongoing efforts of our ombudsmen, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s participation and representation in the Governor’s Assisted Living Facility (ALF) Workgroup and in the ALF negotiated rulemaking meetings, we will tirelessly persist in our efforts to bring about positive change for Florida’s long-term care facility residents.

If you need help or would like to submit a complaint on behalf of a loved one living in a long-term care facility, or if you have questions or want more information about the work and accomplishments of the Ombudsman Program, I encourage you to call us at 1-888-831-0404 or visit online.

Jim Crochet
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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