Advocacy and Investigations
The New Jersey Long Term Care Ombudsman is part of a national resident-focused, person-centered advocacy program, authorized by the federal Older American’s Act.
The NJLTCO advocates for residents of long-term care facilities who are over the age of 60 by investigating and resolving complaints made by or on behalf of those residents.
Under federal law and state law, the Ombudsman’s office:
HOW DOES THE OMBUDSMAN RESOLVE PROBLEMS?
- Accepts complaints via phone, fax, in writing and by email.
- Accepts complaints from any source. All complaints are confidential. Anonymous complaints are accepted.
- Conducts investigations of those complaints and either resolves and/or refers the problem to a regulatory or law enforcement entity for further action.
- Can conduct public or private hearings and subpoena documents or personal testimony.
- Has full unrestricted access to elderly residents of long‐term care facilities and their records.
- Works with resident councils to empower residents to advocate for themselves.
Complaints received by the Ombudsman’s Office are reviewed by a supervisor and assigned to a Field Investigator/Advocate.
NOTE: The NJLTCO is not a first response agency. Calls that require an immediate response because a resident might be in immediate danger are referred to local police or the caller is urged to call 911.
Once a case is opened and assigned, the Investigator/Advocate makes an unannounced visit to the facility, talks to the resident to obtain consent to proceed, conducts a complete review of the facts, obtains records and interviews staff and other relevant witnesses.
The primary function of the investigation is to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of the resident and to ensure that the resident is safe and that the resident's rights and dignity are being upheld.
If the Investigator/Advocate verifies or suspects that the resident has been the victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation, the Investigator/Advocate will collect the facts, and refer his/her findings to a regulatory or law enforcement entity for possible further action.
Here are examples of the types of complaints commonly investigated by the NJLTCO:
WHAT LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES ARE COVERED?
- Financial exploitation
- Improper transfer or discharge
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints
- Physical, verbal or mental abuse, deprivation of services necessary to maintain residents’ physical and mental health or unreasonable confinement
- Poor quality of care, including inadequate personal hygiene and slow response to requests for assistance
- Violation of residents’ rights or dignity
The NJLTCO will accept complaints from or regarding residents of the following long-term care facilities:
- Adult family care homes
- Assisted living facilities, residences, and programs
- Class "C" and "D" boarding homes.
- Comprehensive personal care homes
- Comprehensive rehabilitation hospitals and separately licensed comprehensive rehabilitation units within general acute care hospitals
- Developmental centers
- Intermediate care facilities
- Long-term acute care hospitals
- Nursing homes
- Psychiatric hospitals
- Residential healthcare facilities
- Social day care centers for the elderly and adult medical day care centers
- Special hospitals
- The independent living section of continuing care retirement communities
- Veterans' hospitals
Ombudsman services are FREE