Temporary Change in Ombudsmen Services
On April 1, 2020 by Jodi Boyne
The state Ombudsmen for Long-Term Care resolve complaints, protect rights, and promote access to services for residents before, during and after emergencies like COVID-19. While the Ombudsman has temporarily discontinued in-person visits in long-term care settings under its scope of authority due to COVID-19, residents still have the right to access the Ombudsman program. Below is an excerpt from a letter for Cheryl Hennen, the state Ombudsman, and phone numbers and a brochure to share with residents and families:
“I recognize and respect that residents, especially the elderly, are at high-risk for the virus. Under these circumstances, ombudsmen must value the needs and rights of residents in facilities that limiting visitation, under quarantine, or in which there is a risk of exposure, at the same time attend to their own health and safety.
Until further notice Regional Ombudsmen staff will provide advocacy services via virtual visitation such as telephone, email, or other electronic communications. This will require assistance/support from facility staff.
I sincerely respect facility staff may be under stress and strain to serve residents and comply with many new provisions due to COVID-19. My ask for support and assistance may be of help to facility staff should conflicts arise as we work to collaborate and resolve problems, at the very least help calm anxiety. My staff may ask for help from facility staff to receive proper consent to assist people and other requests but mindful of work assignments. During this time, we thank facility staff for facilitating resident communication (by phone or other format) with the Ombudsman program.
This decision to modify advocacy services delivered from this office has not been made lightly. I recognize and respect that residents, especially the elderly, are at high-risk for the virus. I acknowledge staff of the MN Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs must do our part to slow the spread of this virus while continuing to serve residents and protecting their safety and rights.
Residents still have the right to access the Ombudsman program and we will continue to respond to, and investigate complaints brought forward by residents, family members, and/or other community members. I have a great team of advocates and strongly emphasize their health and well-being comes first.”
The Ombudsmen for Long-Term Care can be reached at 800-657-3591 or 651-431-2555. They also provided a link to their office brochure and we encourage you to share it with residents and families.