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Purpose

We believe aging is a natural phase of life, deserving of respect and dignity. Every day we empower, educate, and partner with older and dependent adults to best meet their unique needs – from providing opportunities to stay connected to the activities they love to ensuring they are free from neglect and abuse.

Because when our elders thrive we all benefit from their unique contributions and collective wisdom.

History

There was a time when an individual in a nursing home was powerless. During the 1950s, federal attention began to call attention to problems with the quality of care in nursing homes and the states themselves began to report problems. When Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965, this greatly expanded federal funding of nursing home services and gave the U.S. Government the authority to set standards of care.

In 1971, a 5-state program was piloted to model responsible and constructive ways to respond to complaints made by or on behalf of individual nursing home residents. Four years later, an Older American Act Amendment enacted a nation-wide mandate for these types of services and delegated the responsibilities to a State Ombudsman who in turn delegated services to programs and nonprofits at the county level.

In Contra Costa, we started with just a few government grants, a single staff person, and a lot of determination. Now, over 40 years later, we have a team of 45, including 35 trained Ombudsman volunteers that visit 600 long-term care facilities and stand up for the 13,00 residents in our region — Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Support for our work has grown too. As an independent nonprofit, government grants are just one funding source and we rely on foundations, grateful families, and concerned citizens to fuel our work.

Ombudsman

Pronounced:
“Om-buds-man”

Meaning:
advocate, person who investigates, reports on, and helps settle complaints

Older Americans Act

Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system.