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Introduction to the Georgia Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

When planning for long-term and nursing home care, many people are worried about the possibility of abuse or neglect. Fortunately, Georgia has some protections for older residents.

Elderly people are not always capable of presenting their concerns in a way that will lead to a meaningful change in policy or procedure. This is one reason why the Older Americans Act was passed in 1965. The law gave states the power and money to establish agencies to intervene on behalf of long-term care residents. In Georgia, the agency is called the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

The agency provides advocacy for long-term care residents and attempts to secure informal resolutions to the concerns of these residents. The ombudsmen often intervene directly on behalf of a resident if the resident consents to such action. The ombudsmen make careful note of the resident's concerns and attempt to mediate the dispute between the patient and the staff.

The staff of the agency receive specialized training in the needs of long-term care patients. The agency has many resources that can help the ombudsmen deal with a wide variety of problems. Among other tools available to ombudsmen is a wide range of knowledge about the laws and policies that govern long-term care facilities and their staff. This knowledge is often used to persuade facility managers and their staff to take action to address patients' concerns.

Occasionally, the ombudsman's efforts are unavailing. In such cases, the assistance of a special needs attorney may be useful. Lawyers with experience in elder care and special needs law can provide advice about various remedies, including filing a complaint with the proper state agency or, in very difficult cases, beginning a court action. Hopefully, things will never come to that point, but a good estate and long-term plan will take into account the possibility.

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