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Although many aspects of long-term care have changed since the COVID-19 crisis began, the right to expect quality, individualized care has not. Facilities are still required to provide all the care and services residents need to reach their highest level of well-being. 

While resident and family councils may need to change how they communicate and interact during this crisis, they still play an important role in fostering communication and supporting residents and staff, and they can continue to be active. Below you will find resident and family council resources and examples of how Ombudsman programs have adjusted during this crisis.

Tips for Ombudsman Program Communication with Resident and Family Councils

  • Email Resident Council leadership and other residents. 
  • Routinely request contact information for residents and resident representatives, including contact information for Resident and Family Council leadership. Establish regular contact with Resident and Family Council leadership and call/email other residents and resident representatives as often as possible. 
  • Obtain contact information for Family Council members and reach out to members via phone or email periodically. 
  • Encourage concerned family members to start a Family Council and provide information regarding starting and facilitating meetings virtually. 
  • Host virtual Family Council meetings. These can be for a single facility, regionally, or statewide.
  • Share information about resident and family member engagement and Family Councils on social media. Host Facebook live events to provide information about residents’ rights, updates regarding COVID-19 and long-term care facilities, share information about the Ombudsman program, and how to start and maintain Family Councils. 

For more information view the fact sheet, Tips for Ombudsman Program Communication with Residents, Long-Term Care Facilities, Families, and the Public During COVID-19

Resident and Family Council Resources



Examples and Resources from Ombudsman Programs During COVID-19 


The Pennsylvania Ombudsman program launched a statewide Virtual Family Council based on Zoom that will meet weekly for as long as necessary. Program representatives facilitate the meetings and contribute to the structure, content, and outreach. The meetings educate, support, and gather information from the families. The program has created materials and a corresponding Facebook page that includes a button to allow for families to request the link for the call. This information has been shared with to local legislators for their offices, the Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services. 


For more information and resources visit the NORC Family and Resident Councils webpage.

Read archived issues of NORC Notes here. If you have a question, are not able to find a resource, or want to share training materials or program practices, please email

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