Ombudsman Program Not Effectively Addressing Elder Abuse Complaints

In a strongly worded report, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes recommended major reforms to the California long-term care ombudsman program. The responsibility of the Ombudsman program is to investigate and resolve complaints made by individual residents in nursing homes.

According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), nursing home and assisted living facility residents in California at an increasing risk of elder abuse because ombudsman funding has been severely cut and the state ombudsman office has established unreasonable restrictions on ombudsman reporting of abuse.

The state report, entitled California’s Elder Abuse Investigators: Ombudsman Shackled by Conflicting Laws and Duties, revealed that ombudsman complaint referrals to the nursing home licensing agency dropped by a stunning 44 percent in the last year after the Governor Schwarzenegger slashed funding to the fledgling ombudsman program. Assisted living facilities have been affected as well. During the same period, complaints by ombudsman to California’s Community Care Licensing regarding assisted living and residential care facilities also dropped by more than 40 percent.

According to CANHR:

The California Department of Aging operates the state ombudsman office, which is going to extreme lengths to prevent the proper investigation of abuse and neglect. The report states that the state ombudsman office will not even release the names of elder abuse witnesses to law enforcement or licensing agencies that are investigating the abuse, despite laws directing it to do so.

Source: California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

The Walton Law Firm represents the elderly victims of neglect or abuse in the nursing home, residential care, or assisted living setting. Cases are taken in all Southern California counties. For a free and confidential consultation call (866) 607-1325, or fill out an online form.