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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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groupThe Resident Experience Program fosters person-centered care and the dignity and well-being of people living in long-term care facilities.

Staff members known as Resident Experience Investigators (REIs) strive to protect residents’ rights and ensure that they enjoy opportunities to engage in structured, meaningful leisure time and can access services — hair and nail care, for example — that boost their self-image.

The program is an evolution of the Social Isolation Project, which was launched during the COVID-19 emergency to address depression, loneliness, anxiety, and cognitive issues many residents experienced after being cut off from family, friends, advocates, and regular activities.

What We Do
REIs make unannounced visits to long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, state-run veterans’ homes, state psychiatric hospitals, residential health care facilities, and assisted living residences. The REIs visit quarterly — or more frequently, if warranted, based on complaints or input from residents.

During their visits, REIs will:

  • Communicate directly with residents about ongoing quality-of-life and care issues and, with residents’ consent, address them with the facility staff.
  • Ensure that residents and staff understand the rights of residents in long-term care.
  • Assist staff from the state Department of Health and other entities involved in Mission Critical Teams sent to help nursing homes that area struggling to meet quality standards.
  • Monitor compliance with the LGBTQ and HIV-positive Bill of Rights.

How we do it
REI visits focus on making sensory observations, evaluating patient-staff interaction, reinforcing residents’ rights, and observing the residents’ living conditions.

The table below shows a checklist of indicators that REIs are trained to take into account.

Sensory Observations

  • Are there strong or offensive odors?
  • Is it noisy inside the building?
  • ➢ Music or other broadcasts through overhead speakers?
    ➢ Loud voices in common areas?
  • Do the common areas and bedrooms receive plenty of natural light?
  • Are there plants and other homelike touches in the common areas?

Residents’ Rights

  • Are residents free to receive visitors despite ongoing health outbreaks?
  • Does the facility have a resident council that operates free of facility interference?
  • Do residents have access to group and individual outings and activities?
  • Are posters on display informing residents how to report concerns to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman?

Patient-Staff Interaction

  • Are residents always treated with dignity and respect?
  • Do staff members respond promptly to call bells?
  • Do staff members knock before entering residents’ rooms?
  • Are staff members appropriately attentive to residents who need assistance during meals?
  • Are employee nametags worn so they are visible to visitors and residents, especially those who are visually impaired?

Residents’ Living Conditions

  • Are bedrooms in good condition? Are they large enough to accommodate the residents’ mobility needs?
  • Is there enough seating for visitors?
  • Do residents have private closets?
  • Can residents go outside when they want, whatever the weather, or enjoy time in indoor areas with ample natural light?
  • Do residents have the capability to speak on the phone privately?
  • Are residents groomed in a way that is to their individual liking?

If you would like to contact a member of the Resident Experience Team, please call 877-582-6995.


Last Updated: Friday, 06/14/24