Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19 Meeting: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, The Most Vulnerable and Forgotten

John McDermott

Click here to listen.

Long Term Care Ombudsman John McDermott

Handouts that John distributed can be downloaded here.


The State LTC Ombudsman identifies, investigates, and resolves complaints related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents in any licensed long term care facility. The Hawaii LTCO Program has 2 full-time Ombudsmen and 1 full-time Volunteer Coordinator for 8,129 beds in 503 facilities. Of those 503 facilities, 128 are on the Neighbor Islands. Presently, the LTCOP depends on trained and certified volunteers to help advocate for the residents but volunteers sometimes come and go. While the program could not exist without volunteers, volunteers are not a substitute for paid full-time staff.

For the third time, legislative bills to add 3 paid LTC Ombudsmen for each Neighbor Island were heard but did not pass. Kokua Council has testified in favor of this expansion and will do so again next year.

Too often friends' and relatives' visits to residents dwindle with time—sometimes resulting in neglect and even abuse. It is important that families remain involved.

While most care homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are fine, be aware of "red flags." Does the caregiver insist you call in advance before you visit? Are there other restrictions placed on your visits? Is the caregiver qualified, trained? Is there a trained, responsible substitute caregiver present at all times? Listen to the residents and pay attention to what they are saying. Too often, victims of abuse or neglect are too frightened to complain. Create a safer environment by taking the resident outside the facility so they can speak openly, freely, and without intimidation.

An audience member raised a concern about the charge of $500 a month by case managers for residents of foster homes and expanded care homes, noting many of these visits are less than an hour. McDermott explained what case management is all about and why it is a state requirement. Families and residents have the right to choose who they want as their case manager, discuss what they can expect from their case manager and negotiate a price that is fair to both sides.

Anyone wishing more information or wanting to be trained as a volunteer ombudsman, call John at 586-0100.

The audit report that John mentioned in his talk is this one:
Study To Determine the Appropriate State Agency To Oversee the Regulation of Adult Residential Care Homes and Adult Foster Homes