Ombudsman: On the Front Lines of Elder Abuse

Know what an Ombudsman is? Know what one does? If not, you aren’t the only one in the dark. In fact, most people are surprised to learn that they’re on the front lines of elder abuse prevention.

How? An Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. Their mission is to help elders and their families find quality long-term care options; they also investigate claims of elder abuse and pursue passage of legislation intended to increase civil and criminal penalties for abusers.

The Federal Ombudsman Program is administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA). The network has 8,700 volunteers certified to handle complaints and more than 1,300 paid staff. Most State Ombudsman Programs are housed in their State Unit on Aging. Nationally, in 2008 the Ombudsman Program investigated over 271,000 complaints made by 182,506 individuals and provided information on long-term care to another 327,000 people

California has a Long-term Care Ombudsman Program under the federal Older Americans Act and California’s Older Californians Act. The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities.

The California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a community-supported program. Volunteers are an integral part of this network. 35 local Ombudsman Program Coordinators are responsible for recruiting, training, and supervising the volunteer Ombudsman representatives.

Ombudsman services are free and confidential. Contact your local LTC Ombudsman Program for the following resident services:

  • Questions or concerns about quality of care
  • Questions or concerns about financial abuse
  • Suspected physical, mental or emotional abuse of residents
  • Witnessing services for Advance Health Care Directives
  • Requesting an Ombudsman to attend a resident care plan meeting
  • Requesting an Ombudsman to attend a resident or family council meeting

For any questions or inquiries please visit or call (800) 981-5932.

Jeff Aidikoff is an elder abuse attorney in Beverly Hills, CA. He can be reached at (800) 981-5932 or

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