Long-term care ombudsman programs advocate for the health, safety, welfare, and rights of people in nursing homes and other residential facilities. This Commonwealth Fund–supported study examines factors associated with the effectiveness of local ombudsman programs in California and New York across five mandated activities: complaint investigation, resident and family education, community education, monitoring laws, and policy advocacy.
What the Study Found
Local coordinators in California rated their ombudsman programs higher in effectiveness than those in New York for three of five activities: complaint investigation, resident and family education, and community education. In both states, self-rated effectiveness was lowest for conducting policy advocacy. Additionally, both states reported that the perceived quality of training is strongly and consistently associated with effectiveness for several of the mandated activities. In New York, the number of hours worked by the local ombudsman coordinator was positively associated with effectiveness in four of the five areas. In California, where programs have more staff and coordinator hours, the quality of training was the most associated with effectiveness.
To conduct this study, the researchers interviewed staff at 73 local long-term care ombudsman programs between March and July 2004. They also collected data from a survey of local program coordinators and used secondary data from the national ombudsman reporting system.
Given the importance of training to program effectiveness in both states, the findings from this study suggest more resources should be committed to the training of both paid and volunteer staff of long-term care ombudsman programs.