History and Authority
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is governed by the federal Older
Americans Act and by South Carolina Law (Omnibus Adult Protection Act).
As noted in the Omnibus Adult Protection Act, the Long Term Care Ombudsman
Program shall investigate or cause to be investigated reports of abuse,
neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults occurring in facilities.
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program may develop policies, procedures,
and memoranda of agreement to be used in reporting these incidents and
in furthering its investigations. The South Carolina Department of Health
and Human Services administers the S.C. Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
through Regional Offices located throughout the state. These programs
are affiliated with Area Agencies on Aging and funded with federal,
state and local dollars. There is no charge for services provided by
the Ombudsman Program.
As a result of a 1971 directive by President Nixon, the Health, Education,
and Welfare Department (HEW) established a new office to oversee all
HEW programs relating to long term care facilities. The Office of Nursing
Home Affairs (ONHA) was to be responsible for coordinating efforts by
different agencies in the department to upgrade standards nationwide
for the benefit of long term care residents. Establishment of ONHA and
the appointment of Mrs. Marie Callender as it head presumably meant
that for the first time, a single official was responsible for pulling
together different HEW nursing home efforts into a single-coordinated
program. Two hundred twenty-seven new personnel were added to the federal
program. Furthermore, President Nixon introduced an eight point nursing
home program in 1971.
1. Training of 2,000 state nursing-home inspectors;
2. Complete (100 percent) federal support of state inspections
3. Consolidation of enforcement activities;
4. Strengthening of federal enforcement of standards;
5. Short-term training for 41,000 professional and paraprofessional
nursing home personnel;
6. Assistance for state investigative "Ombudsman" units;
7. Comprehensive review of long term care; and
8. Crackdown on substandard nursing homes; cut-off of federal funds
In January 1974, there was five-day registered-nursing coverage (but
no medical director) for Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF). In December
1974, came approval of significant regulations for skilled nursing facilities,
including a "patient's bill of rights," a medical director (as of January
1, 1976), a registered nurse seven days a week, and a discharge planning
program. More than half a million dollars in contracts to test ombudsman
programs for residents in nursing homes were awarded by HEW in 1972.
In summary, the rapid growth of nursing homes and a concern for the
quality of care and life experienced by the residents of these facilities
were in part responsible for the creation of the nursing home ombudsman
programs that exist today.
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program was initiated by former President
Nixon through his 1971 Eight Point Initiative to improve the quality
of care in America's nursing homes and to respond to complaints submitted
to the White House and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
about abuse and neglect of long term care residents. President Nixon
directed HEW "to assist the States in establishing investigative units
which would respond in a responsible and constructive way to complaints
made by or on behalf of individual nursing home patients."
In 1973 the Health Services and Mental Health Administration was reorganized,
and the Nursing Home Ombudsman Program was transferred to the Administration
on Aging, Assignment of the program to AoA was consonant with the Commissioner
on Aging's responsibility for serving as an advocate for older persons.
What is a Long Term Care Ombudsman?
A Long Term Care Ombudsman seeks to improve the quality of life and
quality of care of the residents of long term facilities. Residents
of long term care facilities sometimes have little or no contact with
the outside world. Many feel they lack control over their own lives.
Ombudsmen are available to help these residents and their families by
advocating to protect their health, safety, welfare, and rights.
What does the Long Term Care Ombudsman do?
* Investigates and works to resolve problems or complaints affecting
long term care residents.
* Identifies problem areas in long term care and advocates or mediates
* Provides information about long term care and related services.
* Promotes resident, family, and community involvement in long
* Educates the community about the needs of long term care residents.
* Coordinates efforts with other agencies concerned with long term
* Visits long term care facilities to talk to residents and monitor
* Educates facility staff about resident rights and other issues.
What types of issues does an Ombudsman handle?
* Residents' rights
* Quality of care
* Abuse, neglect, and exploitation
* Transfers and discharges
Central Midlands Council of Governments
Central Midlands Ombudsman Program
236 Stoneridge Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29210
803-376-5389 or 1-800-391-1185
The following information and forms maybe helpful for you or
a loved one:
S.C. Bill of Rights for Residents of Long Term Care Facilities
Every resident and their families should know their rights. (Section
Advance Directives Forms
Health Care Power of Attorney Form
(South Carolina Statutory Form, Code of Laws Section 62-5-504)
Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death Form
(South Carolina Code of Laws Section 44-77-10)
List of Long-Term Care Facilities in South Carolina