Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Mary Dalton
MAS Certified Local Ombutsman 

Ombudsman - Looking out for residents' rights

A Note from Missoula Aging Services


Mary Dalton, MAS Certified Local Ombudsman & Friendly Visitor Program Supervisor,, 406-728-7682

Maybe you've heard of the Long-term Care Ombudsman program, but maybe you're wondering what exactly they do, or more importantly how can they help ME? Regardless of age, if you or someone you know lives in long-term care, the answer is YES! We can help! We're here for you.

Ombudsmen are advocates for people living in long-term care, as well as people who are receiving temporary care which requires a short-term stay. For example, maybe you are a person who has lived in a nursing home for many years, or perhaps you are someone who was recently discharged from the hospital after a broken hip and just need short-term care for rehabilitation and physical therapy before going back home. Either way, Ombudsmen are authorized through the Older Americans Act to be an advocate for you.

Ombudsmen are not affiliated with long-term care facilities. The Ombudsman program is one of many resources provided through Missoula Aging Services (MAS) in our mission to support the independence, dignity and health of older adults and those who care for them.

Residents living in long-term care and Residents' Rights are the cornerstone of the Ombudsman program. We welcome referrals from any source, and all referrals are confidential. Once a referral is received, our investigation begins with the resident. The resident is our client, regardless of the original source of the complaint. The resident's dignity and self-determination are our highest priority. Ombudsmen will always honor the resident's wishes over any other individual or organization.

What are Residents' Rights and why are they so important? People living in long-term care retain their civil and human rights, and residents are granted additional rights called Residents' Rights which are protected by federal and state law. Long-term care facilities must actively promote and protect all these rights. Residents' Rights have significant impact! When residents are fully informed, treated with dignity and respect, given the right to make their own choices and communicate freely with people inside and outside of the facility, it greatly enhances their quality of life and quality of care. Residents' Rights were created by Congress in recognition of the perception of the power imbalance between residents and staff, and the tendency for long-term care facilities to operate as an impersonal system which requires the residents to fit in.

Residents' Rights empower residents and recognize their right to choose aspects of their life that are important to them. For more information, call Missoula Aging Services at 406-728-7682.


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