LETTER: Ombudsmen pivotal to quality care

To the editor:

As the Regional Coordinator for the NYS Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at Resource Center for Independent Living, I routinely observe what many of us in society may have yet to experience; the inside of nursing homes and adult care facilities.

Too often, I see elderly residents struggle to navigate living outside the familiarity of their home once placed in a facility. While some residents are fortunate to have family, friends and visitors advocate for their needs in the facility, many have no one.

The purpose of the Ombudsman Program is to be a voice and resource for individuals who live in a facility and don’t have the necessary support. 

Routine Ombudsman access is essential in addressing residents’ concerns within a facility. Many of our local long-term care residents rely on access to an Ombudsman advocate to assist them in investigating and resolving their grievances while living in a long-term care facility. Our presence in these facilities promotes residents’ rights and provides advocacy for quality of life and care.      

Statewide access to an Ombudsman faces significant challenges due to insufficient state funding and a lack of resources.  NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli recently conducted an audit of the Ombudsman program which highlights many issues that impact the accessibility of the program.  

As a community, we should invest in the quality of life and care for our aging population as the individuals who are served through the Ombudsman Program represent some of our most vulnerable residents.  I urge the public and government officials to support this worthy cause as it is time the Ombudsman Program receives appropriate funding and resources to continue this valuable service.     

Sincerely, Krystal Wheatley-Curley

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