State Considers Separating Ombudsman Program
In the last blog entry, I mentioned one solution to the lack of autonomy of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is to move it out from under the umbrella of the Department of Elder Affairs. The Orlando Sentinel reports Senator Ronda Storms and Senator Nan Rich have both spoken out against the Department for strong-arming and man-handling the program which is designed to advocate for care facility residents against nursing home abuse and assisted living facility neglect among other issues.
Senator Storms has promised a bill in the near future to sever the ties between the ombudsman program and the Department of Elder Affairs. With more than 160,000 Floridians living in long-term care facilities, it is vital to have advocates who will not be swayed by politics. Making the program independent would better enable the volunteers to do their jobs without fear of retribution.
As a Tampa long-term care abuse lawyer, I applaud the efforts to improve the ombudsman program. Having advocates to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves is vitally important to our society.