Ombudsman (om-budz-man) is a Swedish word meaning "one who speaks on behalf of another."
As part of the Colorado Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, added in 1988 to Disability Law Colorado, the Area Agency on Aging acts as an advocate for residents of 18 long-term care facilities in Southwest Colorado, Region 9. They include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as two hospitals with temporary skilled nursing.
The Region 9 certified long-term care ombudsmen address complaints and concerns from residents, family members, employees, legal representatives, and other community members. Ombudsmen are trained to assist confidentially with resolving the care, health, safety, and rights issues of residents. At a minimum, the ombudsmen visit nursing homes monthly and assisted living facilities quarterly. The local ombudsmen also educate on resident rights and counsel on the selection of long-term care facilities.
Under the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Inspector General reported in 2019 on nursing home complaints from 2016 through 2018. Colorado’s number of complaints increased, including those causing harm and not investigated in the period required. Disability Law Colorado writes that the top five complaints in Colorado nursing homes and assisted living residences in 2018-19 were staff not treating residents with dignity and respect, discharge or eviction concerns, medication issues, failure to respond to requests for assistance, and care plan and assessment problems.