In Missouri, a few years ago, there was a "change of name" to VOYCE.
Created by Federal Law, like Medicare, it's administered by the States and varies from State to State how it operates, functions and what it does.
As with all these Federally mandated "answers" to the problems we've been experiencing in our "modern" society, the breadth and depth are also dependent on State as well as Federal funding, Grants and other resources.
And, as usual, this segment of "social well being" (many call it social welfare) is usually the last to be considered and the first to be cut dramatically when adjustments for other "needs" of society are made more necessary.
However, setting aside the funding, let's focus on the management and the choices made by the States in effectively applying and using the funds they have.
As with any "business" endeavor, its top down and bottom up with clear, concise and timely transparency that facilitate and increase the high level of effectiveness of a program.
Check out your own State's website; here's an example of the Missouri website outlining the "responsibilities" of the Ombudsmen. CLICK HERE for the complete page.
Here's a small selection of the content of the page and my comments for you to think about are placed in italics:
"The focus of the Ombudsman efforts is resident-initiated complaints.
"While complaints may be made on behalf of residents by other individuals, care is taken that such complaints accurately reflect the concerns of the resident. Complaints are received in the strictest of confidence."
Writer's Note: Complaints are received and also never made public, at least in Missouri.
THE CHALLENGES PRESENTED BY A NON TRANSPARENT SYSTEM THAT BELIEVES PEOPLE WILL REPORT "ANYTHING" AND "EVERYTHING"....
This means you and I have no way of knowing what "challenges" any facility is experiencing and since the focus of this group is to "mediate" and there's no real power or ability to ensure compliance to resolving a problem, they're often repeated and if yet another resident doesn't see, hear and/or report the neglect or abuse, it simply continues to happen and negatively impact Senior's quality of life.
MANY CONCERNS, PROBLEMS AND ABUSES NEVER REACH THE LIGHT OF DAY BECAUSE THE "OMBUDSMAN" PROGRAM IS SET UP TO "HANDLE THEM" and that includes not ensuring any report is generated that is available to the general public.
"accurately reflect the concerns of the resident". Well, with Lewy Body Dementia or other forms of Dementia, how can you rely on the resident to even be able to remember what they called about when calls made on a weekend do not go to a Hotline but wait until Monday or even Tuesday.
How many residents of a facility even know their telephone number so they can receive a return call. If they do not have a cell phone, they have to understand the "phone system in the LTC that includes the main number and how to ensure the resident is given any messages."
Incidents happen during all hours and the office of the Ombudsman operates on standard business hours, Monday through Friday, closed on holidays and for many meetings -- at least in Missouri.
In our case, when we called on a Friday to report neglect and abuse for my dying mother, a recording announced the office was closed because everyone was attending a meeting and would reopen the following Monday.
As the message I left said, by that time my Mom would have died.
Been there, done that.
Continuing from the written State of Missouri website above: