Ombudsman Program

Hands of an old manBy some estimates, 60 percent of Florida’s long-term elder care patients don’t get visitors.  The state had launched an ombudsman program in the 2000s – the program utilizes trained citizen volunteers to make sure the elders are being treated with dignity (and advocating for them when they’re not).

However, there are some fundamental problems with the Ombudsmen program in Florida – first of all, in the past three years, there have been three different administrators. Brian Lee was heading the program when Rick Scott first became Governor (Scott just won re-election in 2014). He was ousted by Scott’s staffers, he says, because he wanted ownership transparency for the program. Now he runs a group in Tallahassee and had this to say of the current situation:

“It just leaves families with no one to turn to when their family members are experiencing bad care.”

The other problem is sheer numbers. In 2007, a study estimated the state needed 750 total ombudsmen to make the correct amount of visits. In 2014, it has 360. Palm Beach County is especially problematic: it has just 21 ombudsmen, but there are roughly 11,200 nursing home and assisted living beds in the county. That’s 1 ombudsman for every 491 beds; most states with similar programs average 1 volunteer for 284 beds. (And obviously, Florida is one of the retirement capitals of the United States, so you’d assume the number would be better, not worse.)

Scott was just re-elected over former Governor Charlie Crist, so a big question for him remains: can he make the ombudsmen program stronger and more independent, so that seniors in elder care situations are truly benefiting? 

Thanks for visiting Advocare. We provide Medical Care Management, Home Care Management, Transition Care Management and Life Care Planning throughout the South Florida areas of North Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Palm Beach Island and more. 

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