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Ombudsman Outlook
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June 2020 | Volume 6, Issue 4

In this issue:

COVID-19: Updates and Resources for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, it is important for Ombudsman programs and other advocates to be informed and take precautions to prevent the spread.

The information below includes updates from ACL and CMS, reopening recommendations, tips for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and links to additional information.

Learn more »

New and Updated Resources

Tips for Ombudsman Program CommunicationNEW! Tips for Ombudsman Program Communication with Residents, Long-Term Care Facilities, Families, and the Public During COVID-19
In-person visitation restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) required Ombudsman programs to adapt quickly to ensure residents continue to have access to program services. This resource provides tips and examples to promote effective communication between the Ombudsman program and residents, families, providers, and the public when in-person visitation is limited.

taking-care-of-you_Page_1.jpgNEW! Taking Care of You Fact Sheet
By the very nature of Ombudsman program work, you may be subjected to compassion fatigue, burnout, or individual trauma due to COVID-19. This resource provides brief information about these reactions, tips for self-care, and program management considerations.

NEW! NORS Online Training Course
This course is an online training tool to help Ombudsman programs understand and comply with National Ombudsman Reporting (NORS) reporting requirements. The course contains the same content as existing training materials. However, it provides users with an interactive online option to learn about NORS and take quizzes. This course is in the NORC Training Center. You can find the Training Center at

NEW! Materials Available from the Cultural and Linguistic Competence: What it Means for Ombudsman Programs Webinar
This webinar offers definitions and conceptual frameworks for cultural competence and linguistic competence and examines what they mean for Ombudsman Programs, their staff, and volunteers. It also offers examples of two programs that provide professional development and training on implicit and explicit biases and the unique cultural issues related to underserved lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community within long-term care.

NEW! Materials Available from the Ombudsman Program Communication and Advocacy During COVID-19 Webinar
In-person visitation restrictions intended to reduce the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) required Ombudsman programs to adapt quickly to ensure residents have access to program services. However, during this crisis programs must use other means to connect with residents to provide information and respond to complaints. During this webinar presenters shared state and local examples of how to they are communicating with residents to make sure their experiences are heard, and concerns are addressed.

NEW! Part I, II, and III Materials Available from the Four-Part Webinar Series - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents, and Your Advocacy
In partnership with the Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, Consumer Voice and NORC are offering a four-part webinar series regarding the impact of trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care residents and Ombudsman programs. The webinar series will highlight important themes related to trauma-informed care, person-centered care, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. The series will include case studies, self-reflection activities and exercises, and materials for attendees. Part IV will be held on July 29 at 3:00pm ET, register here.

NEW! April, May, and June NORC Notes
NORC Notes is a monthly email reminder of available resources on the NORC website and tips for how your program can use them. The April issue highlighted National Volunteer Week, the May issue reviewed self-care resources, and the June issue provided COVID-19 updates for long-term care Ombudsman programs. Sign-up to receive NORC Notes.

UPDATED! Webpage for Ombudsman Programs on COVID-19
As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve, it is important for Ombudsman programs and other advocates to be informed and take precautions in order to prevent the spread. The information on this page includes federal updates and guidance, program management considerations, examples of Ombudsman program advocacy and communication, tips for preventing the spread of COVID-19, and links to additional information.

TA Hot Topic: 2020 Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

The Support Older Americans Act (OAA) of 2020 (HR4334) reauthorizes programs for FY 2020 through FY2024. The bill text is available here and the compilation of the OAA of 1965, as amended through P.L. 116-131, enacted March 25, 2020, is available here.

Amendments specific to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program include:

  • Section 306(a)(9) and 307(a)(9) - Minimum funding and maintenance of effort language was updated to reflect that FY2019 data is to be used rather than FY2000 in both State and Area Agency on Aging (AAA) budgeting. 
    • At both the State and AAA level, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program will expend not less than the total amount of funds appropriated under this Act and expended by the agency in fiscal year 2019 in carrying out such a program under this title. 
  • Section 702(a) OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM.—There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out chapter 2, $18,066,950 for fiscal year 2020, $19,150,967 for fiscal year 2021, $20,300,025 for fiscal year 2022, $21,518,027 for fiscal year 2023, and $22,809,108 for fiscal year 2024. 
  • Section 712(a)(5)(E) clarifies that the LTCOP is allowed to provide and financially support recognition for an individual designated as a volunteer to represent the Ombudsman program, and may reimburse or otherwise provide financial support for any costs, such as transportation costs, incurred by representatives of the program.

HR4334 also requires a report to update best practices for home and community-based ombudsmen, stating that “not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Assistant Secretary shall issue a report updating the best practices for home and community-based ombudsmen that were included in the report entitled “Best Practices for Home and Community-Based Ombudsmen,” issued by the National Direct Service Workforce Resource Center of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and prepared by the Research and Training Center at the University of Minnesota and The Lewin Group (January 2013).”

Learn more »

NORS Corner: National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) Online Training

The newly developed National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) Online Training is based on the NORS Training Materials. This course will help Ombudsman programs understand and comply with the National Ombudsman Reporting System. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) created NORS to satisfy the Ombudsman program reporting requirements in the Older Americans Act (OAA) and to enhance consistency in data collection and reporting.

Learn more »

News from the Network

Alabama Ombudsmen Deliver Watermelons to Nursing Homes with their Contact Information to Celebrate the Fourth of July (June 25, 2020)

The New York Times Interviews Ombudsmen on Resident Dumping (June 21, 2020)

Rhode Island State Ombudsman and Attorney General Worked Together on Guidance Restricting LTC Facilities from Seizing Stimulus Checks from Residents (June 13, 2020)

Illinois Ombudsmen Make Window Visits to Long-Term Care Facilities (May 14, 2020)

AARP Texas Hosted Texas State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Patty Ducayet, on Facebook Live to Discuss COVID-19 in Nursing Homes (April 28, 2020)

New York Ombudsmen Quoted on Immunity Law (April 17, 2020)

Dallas County Ombudsman, Suzanna Sulfstede, Provided Questions for Families to Consider Before Removing Loved Ones from Their Facility (April 13, 2020)

Kentucky Ombudsman Program Video (April 6, 2020)

To read additional COVID-19 related articles quoting State Ombudsmen click here.

Volunteer Management: Volunteers - A Key Component to Effective LTCOPs

During the past few months, volunteer representatives have been active in reaching out to residents and family members by phone, email, via social media, and mail. Across the country, volunteers have felt the loss of in-person communication with residents; however, they continue to advocate and provide an invaluable connection with residents as best as possible.

Learn more »

Quick Tips: Self-Care During COVID-19

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an unprecedented pandemic. In our lifetime, we have never been in the situation of dealing with so many variables impacting us, our families, employers, family caregivers, and residents of long-term care facilities. In addition to the general stress of this pandemic, the way Ombudsman programs operate has been significantly impacted due to the temporary in-person visitation restrictions.

During this difficult time, it is critical that you take care of yourself so you can be your best for others in both your work and personal life. Below are resources and suggestions for self-care. 

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Residents' Rights Month 2020

RRM 2020 - smallOctober is “Residents’ Rights Month,” an annual event designated by Consumer Voice to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities and those receiving care in their home or community. It is an opportunity to focus on and celebrate the dignity, respect and rights of every individual receiving long-term services and supports.

This year's theme is Connection Matters. The theme emphasizes connections – to family, to friends, and to the community – as an essential component of good health and quality of life for residents. The months of restrictions on visitation in long-term care facilities and the inability of residents, families, and friends to be together during the coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the importance of connection, of relationships, and the impact they have on all of our well-being. During this crisis, many creative ways of staying connected were shared that can be replicated and built upon in all communities.

Check back often as Consumer Voice's Residents' Rights Month webpage is updated with additional resources and materials. 

Learn more »

Read past issues of the Ombudsman Outlook on the NORC website. If you did not receive this email directly and would like to sign-up to receive NORC emails please fill out the form on our website. If you would like to receive The Voice (the Consumer Voice weekly e-newsletter) automatically sign-up on the Consumer Voice website. If you have any questions, challenges, or article suggestions related to long-term care Ombudsman advocacy and program management, please let us know.

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