Spotlight on: Virginia’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

by Jessica A. Hayes, Esq.

Click here for .pdf version

A common concern among elderly individuals facing long-term care is the quality of care and personal treatment they will receive.  While many caregivers do an excellent job of providing the necessary medical care and attention to these individuals, there are also caregivers who provide less than satisfactory care or treat individuals poorly, and it can be hard to predict which facilities or caregivers this will be.  Individuals receiving long-term care services may not be able to advocate for themselves when placed in an unsatisfactory situation or suffering from neglect; therefore, it is important that such individuals have advocates who may intervene on their behalf when necessary.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program which advocates for elderly individuals receiving long-term care services in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or in their home.  Managed and operated by the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A), a private non-profit organization, the program is funded through federal, state, local and charitable contributions and is available to individuals free of charge.

Your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman can provide counseling and information by phone or in person to help you resolve issues with long-term care providers.  If you wish, they may also become directly involved to help resolve the issue by meeting with the individual receiving long-term care services, their family members, and caregivers.  If the recipient of care and his or her family agrees, the Ombudsman may also involve other agencies, such as Adult Protective Services through the Department of Social Services, as needed.

Some of the most common complaints the Ombudsman Program receives are as follows:

  • Failure to respond to requests for assistance
  • Inadequate assistance with the administration of medications
  • Accidental or unexplained injury, falls, improper handling
  • Unattended symptoms, unmanaged pain, failure to recognize changes in condition
  • Improper discharge or eviction from a facility
  • Inadequate assistance with personal hygiene, dressing, or grooming
  • Lack of dignity or respect shown by staff
  • Facilities or equipment in disrepair
  • Cleanliness of facilities
  • Loss or theft of personal property

There are twenty local area agencies on aging throughout Virginia which provide Ombudsman services.  In southeast Hampton Roads, the local Ombudsman program is run by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, which serves Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County.  Based in Norfolk, it may be contacted at (757) 461-9481, ext. 114, or 1-800-766-8059.

If you have a concern about the long-term care services you or a loved one are receiving, and you have been unable to resolve the issue yourself, consider contacting your local Ombudsman for assistance.

Information adapted from www.elderrightsva.org.  A list of local ombudsman programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia may be found at http://www.vaaaa.org/LTCOP/localombud.asp. 

Kit Kat

Ask Kit Kat:  Pet Voluntourism

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, what is pet voluntourism?

Kit Kat:  Well, it’s not a misspelling for one thing. However, as the name indicates, it is about people combining volunteering with animals while on vacation. Sort of a neat idea don’t you think? There are at least 10 places across the country that offer some variation on this theme. There isn’t room to discuss all of them here, but I’d like to highlight 3 that interested me most.

For a complete listing, read the article from USA Today where this information was found (citation below).

One of the first to capture my attention is St. John Animal Care Center in the US Virgin Islands. They are a no-kill shelter, and need volunteers to walk dogs, and take care of cats, which abound in the warm climate. They also have experience in helping you arrange to take a pet back with you stateside.

If you like the mountains, there is a shelter in Denver, Colorado called Maxfund Animal Adoption Center. It’s been in existence since 1988, and it has found homes for over 26,317 dogs and cats. It even has a foster care program, enabling the potential adopter to “try out” their potential animal adoptee. However, they won’t allow just anyone to volunteer. Applicants are screened and there is a mandatory orientation before one can volunteer.

For city folks, there is PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) in Chicago, Illinois. In 2014, PAWS adopted out 5, 952 animals, and spayed and neutered hundreds more. They will help families who are under-resourced with free or low-cost vaccinations and vet care. PAWS has been rated by Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator, as being in the top 1% of charities nationwide. Now that’s quite a recommendation! For more pet volunteerism opportunities, read Carri Wilbanks, “Volunteerism: Animal shelters that need your help,” USA Today, published on May 12, 2015. (http://experience.ustoday/com/america/story/best-of-lists/2015/05/12/volunteer-vacation-animal-shelters-no-kill/27185495/)

Upcoming Seminars and Events

  • June 18 & 30, 2015 –The HLC Monthly Seminar for June is Securing Your Retirement:  Transforming Social Security Into a Winning Retirement Strategy.  The seminar is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5921 Harbour View Blvd., Suffolk, VA and at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 30, 2015 at Crowne Plaza – Towne Center, 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA.  To register and reserve your seat, please call 757-399-7506 and ask for Debbie or register online at hooklawcenter.com/seminars.
  • June 25, 2015Andrew H. Hook will be speaking to a group at the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center titled,  “Avoiding Elder Abuse By Agents, Trustees and Conservators.”
  • August 12, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia.
  • August 21, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at DePaul Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.
  • August 27, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to a group at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Virginia.
  • September 9, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking at a Virginia Continuing Legal Education seminar.
  • October 26, 2015Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be speaking at the National Business Institute’s seminar on The Probate Process from Start to Finish in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Distribution of This Newsletter

Hook Law Center encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to Hook Law Center, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Hook Law Center News, then please telephone us at 757-399-7506, e-mail us at mail@hooklawcenter.com or fax us at 757-397-1267.