An Ombudsman is a person concerned about protecting the rights (in this case) of persons in long term care facilities. The Ombudsman’s main responsibility is to help residents in long term care facilities maintain or improve their quality of life by helping ensure their rights are not violated. The ombudsman’s role includes advocate, mediator, educator, problem solver, investigator, and negotiator.

There are vulnerable adults in Idaho who are unable to protect themselves from abuse or exploitation by others. There are also vulnerable adults who are neglected by persons caring for them. Still other vulnerable adults are unable to care for themselves and have no one else to help them.

How can an Ombudsman help?

Ombudsmen help long term care residents obtain services necessary for quality of life with dignity. Assist long term care staff meet needs of those in their facilities. Provide community education on long term care issues such as resident rights, choosing a facility, and ombudsmen program. Ombudsmen receive, investigate, mediate, and attempt to resolve complaints such as those related to resident care, dietary, medications, rights, environmental issues, staffing issues, and systems.

Who can an Ombudsman serve?

Ombudsmen can assist residents in long term care facilities including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, friends and family members of residents, and long term care staff and administrators. Ombudsmen provide confidential and free services.

For assistance or to file a complaint

Contact the Ombudsman at the Southeast Idaho Area V Area Agency on Aging: Andrea DeMartinis at 208-233-4032

You can file a complaint by letter, phone, or personal visit. Contacting the Ombudsman need not be a formal process. Often times an Ombudsman can clear up a situation while in its early stages by a simple call.


Long-term Care Resident Rights


When you live in a nursing home or assisted living facility you keep the rights you have had all your life plus you gain additional rights under federal and state law.

PRIVACY. You have the right to:

  • Private and confidential medical care and records
  • Personal privacy including private visits and privacy in your room
  • Communicate privately and freely with any person
  • Have access to your personal account and manage your own money
  • Open your own mail

FAIRNESS. You have the right to:

  • Be treated with courtesy, respect, dignity and compassion
  • Be free from discrimination because of your age, race, religion, physical or mental disability, gender, sexual orientation, financial status, nationality, or family status
  • Information about all services and their costs, written notice of any changes
  • A written description of your legal rights and responsibilities as a resident of this facility
  • A safe and clean place to live

FREEDOM. You have the right to:

  • Be free from chemical and physical restraints
  • Be free from physical, emotional, and verbal abuse and neglect
  • Be free from financial abuse
  • Freely participate in religious, social, community and other activities
  • Leave this facility freely and return without unreasonable restriction
  • Be free from unjustified room transfers or discharge from this facility

SELF DETERMINATION. You have the right to:

  • Refuse treatment
  • Voice grievances to the facility staff, public officials, the ombudsman or any other person, without fear of reprisal or retaliation
  • File complaints and have them promptly addressed and resolved
  • Understand and participate in the plan for your care and treatment
  • Choose your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers
  • Be given all information about your medical condition and health
  • Have information about Medicare/Medicaid eligibility and benefits
  • Keep and use your personal belongings without loss or damage
  • Appeal before any unjustified or involuntary transfer or discharge
  • Organize and participate in a resident association, and to recommend changes and improvements in this facilities policies and services

Choosing a Facility


When you are considering an assisted living facility or nursing home for yourself or family member you will want to visit and compare facilities before making a decision. Some facilities offer specialized care for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Some facilities are private pay while others accept Medicaid.

Checklist for choosing a good facility:

  • Location: Is the facility conveniently located for family visits and access to preferred medical providers?
  • Healthcare: Is the facility able to provide the level of care necessary to meet the residents needs? Does the facility provide transportation and assistance with medical appointments and services?
  • Staff: Is the staff polite and courteous? Is there adequate staff to meet the resident needs? How does staff interact with residents? Is the staff responding to requests for assistance in a timely manner? How much training has the staff received?
  • Activities: Are their daily activities planned? Are there community outings? Is there a resident council? How much community involvement is there? Is transportation provided?
  • Meals: Is there a posted menu? Are there alternatives offered? Are snacks offered? Are special dietary needs met?
  • Housekeeping: Does the facility appear clean and well maintained?
  • Atmosphere: Does the facility appear calm, comfortable, and homelike? What is the noise level?
  • Resident rooms: Private or shared rooms? Is there a private bathroom in the room? Are the rooms personalized? Are rooms furnished or can residents bring their own furnishings? Are pets allowed?
  • Fees and policies: What is the basic room rate? What are the fees for other services? Is there an application fee or deposit? Are they refundable? Does the facility accept Medicaid? What is the billing method? Will the room be held if resident is temporarily away from the facility?
  • Administration: Is the facility licensed? What are the most recent survey results? How long has the administrator been there? How are complaints addressed and resolved?

Resource Links


To locate an Ombudsman in your state