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Ombudsman Outlook
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September 2021 | Volume 8, Issue 1

In this issue:

NORC News and Federal Updates

Consumer Voice Awarded Five-Year Cooperative Agreement to Operate NORC

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) has been awarded a five-year Cooperative Agreement from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to continue to operate the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC).

Over the next five-years, the Center will provide technical assistance and training to Ombudsmen, designated representatives of the Office (both paid and volunteer), and state agencies on aging to support credible, effective, and equitable Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs.

Learn more »

New National Ombudsman Program Coordinator at ACL

bev-laubert-small.jpgThe Administration for Community Living (ACL) announced Beverley “Bev” Laubert as ACL’s new National Ombudsman Program Coordinator in the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs. Bev comes to ACL after a distinguished career in the Ohio Long-Term Care Ombudsman program serving a cumulative thirty-three years with twenty-six of those as the Ohio State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Bev also held the position of State Unit on Aging Director in 2018.

Learn more »

New and Updated Resources

NEW! Quarterly Technical Assistance (TA) Talks

NORC provides daily in-depth technical assistance, consultation, information, and referral, for Ombudsman programs. To increase direct access to technical assistance (TA) and peer support, NORC will host quarterly live technical assistance dialogues. Each TA Talk will focus on one topic. To open the discussion, NORC staff, subject matter experts, or your peers will briefly provide information and/or highlight resources then attendees will have ample time to seek technical assistance and ask questions. Attendees are encouraged to share their expertise and experiences to provide peer-to-peer support and learn from each other. The next TA Talk will be held on December 15, 2021. Have an idea for a TA Talk topic? Email NORC at ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

NEW! Certificates of Participation

To assist Ombudsman programs in meeting annual continuing education requirements outlined in the training standards, NORC will provide certificates of participation to those that register and attend live NORC webinars and meetings via Zoom. The purpose of the certificates is to show your attendance during a live webinar. The certificates are available for anyone that registers and joins a training for at least 30 minutes. Visit our website or view a PDF of FAQs regarding receiving NORC training certificates of participation.

NEW! End of Grant Year Wrap-Up 2021

As we finished this grant year, we would like to thank State Ombudsmen and representatives of the Office for sharing your experiences, resources, expertise, and ideas with us. We were able to support Ombudsman programs thanks to funding from the Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging (ACL/AoA) for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (CV) to operate the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC). Read highlights of resources and activities completed by NORC over the past year.

NEW! Are you new to the Ombudsman Program? Here is what you need to know

This infographic provides a step-by-step checklist for new Ombudsmen to acquaint themselves with NORC and includes links to important webpages and resources, information about the Ombudsman program, the sign-up page for our email listserv, and our email address if you have any technical assistance questions.

Tips for Using This New Resource

  1. If you are new to the Ombudsman program, download and review it, and share it with your peers.
  2. If you hire paid representatives and/or work with volunteer representatives, include this resource in their welcome and orientation materials for initial training. 
  3. Share this resource on your program’s social media accounts.

NEW! July, August, and September 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 July issue was on the updated COVID-19 Recovery and Reentry Resources for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, the August issue shared tips for getting to know NORC resources, and the September issue highlighted NORS resources and the new quarterly technical assistance talks. Sign-up to receive NORC Notes.

TA Hot Topic: Accessing COVID-19 Vaccination Rates for Residents and Staff

How do I access CMS data on COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff? 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, access to accurate and reliable data related to COVID-19 in nursing homes has been challenging for residents, their families, and advocates. CMS has been sharing data on its data website, but has not integrated this information into Care Compare.

The Consumer Voice released a video on August 19, 2021, demonstrating how to access vaccination rates. On September 21, 2021, CMS announced it was beginning to share facility level vaccination rates. Residents, families, and advocates are now able to directly access facility level vaccination rates on Care Compare. Each home now has a section that provides the vaccination rates for both residents and staff. It is important to note, however, that the data is at least two weeks old as CMS states it plans to update the data every two weeks.

To help individuals access this important information, look for an upcoming video from Consumer Voice on how to access the COVID-19 data. The video will show how to navigate the website and give pointers on how to access the information.

Learn more »

National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) Corner

Upcoming Minor Revisions to NORS

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently sought and responded to public comment regarding minor revisions to the collection requirements for the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS). The proposed revisions were announced in the Federal Register with a 60-day comment period on March 10. 2021. On July 29, 2021, ACL announced in the Federal Register that the proposed collection of information for NORS was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance and the public had 30 days to submit comments regarding the collection requirements. The notice included the four public comments ACL received in response to the original 60-day Federal Register Notice (FRN).

As of September 30, 2021, the revised NORS Tables are not final, but you may review the proposed revisions (in red font) in the following tables:

NORS Table 1 | NORS Table 2 | NORS Table 3

NEW NORS FAQ

The following question and answer about recording information and assistance was recently added to our National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Question: How do I count information and assistance (I&A) if I meet with facility staff and a resident at the same time to provide information. For example, I recently provided information about COVID-19 guidance to a resident and nursing facility staff member at the same time. If one activity meets the definition of an information and assistance to nursing facility staff and the other is information and assistance to individual, should I document this as two instances of I&A?

Answer: If you have an Information and Assistance (I&A) conversation with both a resident and a nursing facility staff member at the same time, record the conversation as one I&A activity with whichever person (resident or staff) requested the I&A. If you have I&A conversations separately even if it's the same topic, one with a resident and one with a nursing facility staff person, record the activities as one instance of I&A with a resident and one instance of I&A with nursing facility staff.

View all NORS FAQs (including how to document activities during COVID-19) on this page. Contact NORC if you need assistance or want to suggest a new FAQ.

Learn more »

News from the Network

Ohio State Ombudsman, Beverley Laubert, is Interviewed on a Podcast About Nursing Homes During COVID-19

Kansas State Ombudsman, Camille Russell, Comments on Nursing Home Staff Vaccination Rates

California Ombudsman Program Representative, Rachel Tate, Contributes to NCEA Blog on Changes in Long-Term Care

Newsletter Written by and for Volunteer Ombudsmen in Pennsylvania

Kansas State Ombudsman, Camille Russell, is Interviewed on Nursing Home Visitation Changes During COVID-19

Video Message from Ohio Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Bob Vines, to Long-Term Care Providers

Ohio State Ombudsman, Beverley Laubert, is Interviewed on Medical Funding and Impact of Staffing in Nursing Homes

Volunteer Management: It is Time to Get Serious About Recruitment and Retention!

One of the many decisions Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs (LTCOP) make is whether to reimburse volunteers for mileage of personal vehicles to training or facility visits and at what rate. In 2021, the federal government allows:

  • $0.56 per mile driven for business use.
  • $0.14 per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The 2020 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act clarified that the Ombudsman program 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 [Section 712(a)(5)(E)].

Many states have set limits on mileage reimbursement. In addition to determining if the LTCOP has the funds to pay these expenses, consideration needs to be given to whether volunteers will end up paying taxes if the rate of payment exceeds the $0.14 per mile.

If available, volunteers may take advantage of public transportation to avoid parking fees. Bus and subway passes may also be something to consider.

Learn more »

Quick Tips: Emergency Preparedness Resources

This season is known for warmer weather but it also brings an increase of hurricanes, tropical storms, and other severe weather and natural disasters. Below are opportunities for Ombudsman program advocacy, emergency preparedness tips, and resources.

Ombudsman programs play a vital role in emergency planning and response. Ombudsman programs can resolve complaints, protect rights, and promote access to services for residents before, during, and after emergencies and disasters. There are a variety of ways in which Ombudsman programs can contribute to ensuring that long-term care facilities are ready for natural disasters.

Learn more »

October is Residents' Rights Month

RRM 2021 LogoResidents’ Rights Month is an annual event designated by the Consumer Voice and is celebrated in October to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities and consumers receiving services in their home or community. It is a time for celebration and recognition offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect, and the value of each individual resident.

The 2021 Residents’ Rights Month theme, Reclaiming My Rights, My Home, My Life, acknowledges the impact of this past year on residents and highlights the need for residents’ rights to be recognized, recovered, and reasserted. It emphasizes the recognition of the long-term care facility as the residents’ home, and the importance of residents reclaiming their own lives. The theme focuses on raising awareness of federally mandated residents’ rights while also underscoring the need for dignity and self-determination of all residents.

Visit the Consumer Voice website for resources, promotional materials, activity ideas to celebrate Residents' Rights Month.

Learn more »

Events

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October 2021: Residents' Rights Month - Learn more »

October 27, 2021: Save the Date - Residential Care Communities Webinar | 3:00 - 4:30 pm ET

November 3, 2021 - November 5, 2021: Consumer Voice Annual Conference - Learn more »

December 1, 2021: Save the Date - OAAPS Webinar | 3:00 - 4:30 pm ET

December 15, 2021: Save the Date - TA Talk | 2:00 - 3:00 pm ET

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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