Examining the Older Americans Act

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By Kay Kaylor
Special to The PREVIEW
I advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence, as the part-time long-term care ombudsman for Archuleta County. Federal and state laws protect residents to promote quality of care and quality of life.
On May 15, the House Subcommittee on Human Rights and Human Services heard testimony about the national ombudsman program as part of the work to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), described in last week’s column. The Texas state long-term care ombudsman, Patricia Ducayet, had five minutes to testify.
Title VII of the OAA authorizes the state ombudsman programs “to protect the health, safety, welfare and rights” of facility residents, noted Ducayet, and is part of the system “to protect independence and promote dignity.” Essential elements of the program include “confidentiality provisions, systems advocacy, resolving complaints, and preventing abuse and neglect.”
She gave an example of the Texas ombudsman program helping with the appeal of a resident who was improperly discharged due to one behavioral incident related to dementia. He was transferred to a behavioral health hospital for a month and lived only a week in a new nursing facility. The case prevailed, but did not help him in time.
Ducayet also advocated for making the booming assisted living facilities more affordable because they give residents more freedom. Yet the ombudsman program is “overwhelmed” with serving such residents, so she hopes to see a new appropriation for the assisted living portion of ombudsman work. She then asked that the OAA recognize the important role of program volunteers and provide for their traveling expenses.
For further information, please call me at 403-2164 or send an email to ombudsman2@sjbaaa.org.