Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

A Long Term Care Ombudsman serves as the advocate for residents in long-term facilities.  They investigate complaints and negotiate on the residents’ behalf to resolve complaints to the residents’ satisfaction.  This is the only program of its kind that is totally devoted to the concerns of facility residents.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman is governed by the federal Older Americans Act.  The South Carolina Department on Aging administers the statewide Long Term Care Ombudsman Program through ten regional offices located throughout the state. There is no charge for services provided by the Ombudsman Program.

Long Term Care Ombudsmen
  • Investigates and works to resolve problems or complaints affecting long-term care residents
  • Identifies problem areas in long-term care facilities and advocates or mediates for change
  • Provides information about long term care and related services
  • Promote resident, family, and community involvement in long-term care
  • Educates the community about the needs of long-term care residents
  • Coordinates efforts with other agencies concerned with long-term care
  • Visits long-term care facilities to talk to residents and monitor conditions
  • Educates residents and facility staff about residents’ rights and other issues

Types of Residential Facilities
Community Residential Care Facilities/Assisted Living Facilities provide room and board and limited personal assistance.     The core services provided include, but are not limited to:

  • Three meals a day
  • Snacks at no additional charge
  • Housekeeping services
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking
  • Medication assistance
  • 24 hours, seven days a week staffing
  • Transportation to medical appointments.

Residents of these facilities are not eligible for reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid, but eligible residents may qualify for the Optional State Supplement (OSS) Program which can pay a supplement to a Community Residential Care facility for individuals 65 and over, blind or disabled. This program is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The requirements to qualify for OSS have stringent limitations on assets and income available to the recipient. Community Residential Care Facilities (CRCF’s) are licensed and monitored for compliance by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, Division of Health Licensing.

Nursing Home facilities are licensed by the State and monitored for compliance with federal regulations by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, Division of Health Licensing. You will find information from state surveys of nursing homes in your area at Nursing Home compare on the Medicare website

Alzheimer’s Services or Memory Care Facilities offer special care treatment and/or special care units for dementia residents. Both Community Residential Care facilities and Nursing Homes may provide special care for Alzheimer’s patients.

Lists of licensed long term care facilities in South Carolina by type of facility may be found on the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) website.  On this page you will find links to lists of Community Residential Care Facilities (CRCFs), Day Care Facilities for Adults, Nursing Homes and Home Health Agencies.

 If you feel that your rights or the rights of others are not being respected and they live in a licensed facility within Berkeley, Charleston, or Dorchester counties, contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program at Trident Area Agency on Aging at 843-554-2280 or email Ombudsman@tridentaaa.org

The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs and the Department of Mental Health are state agencies that plans, develops, coordinates and services for South Carolinians with severe, lifelong disabilities. The long-term care ombudsman advocates for individuals in their residential services programs. To file a report for advocacy of an individual call South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Vulnerable Adults Investigations Unit. 866-200-6066.

Volunteer Ombudsman Program
SIXTY PERCENT OF THE RESIDENTS IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES HAVE NO VISITORS.  The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program sponsors Volunteer Ombudsmen who visit with residents at facilities on a regular basis.  The volunteers help to educate residents and families on residents’ rights.

The Volunteer Ombudsmen diminish the sense of isolation experienced by residents, especially those without family.  They provide encouragement and assist the resident in achieving a sense of self-determination.

Volunteer Ombudsmen are special people who make a significant contribution.  Through their efforts, they improve the quality of life for many seniors in our state.  They ensure that the lines of communication between residents and staff remain open.

What is required to be a Volunteer Ombudsman?
Because residents in long term-care facilities may be at risk of exploitation, the South Carolina Department on Aging maintains high standards. Volunteers must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Have a valid driver’s license and transportation.
  • Not use controlled substances.
  • Not have a criminal record.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Have acceptable verbal, listening and writing skills.
  • Be available for a minimum of 2-4 hours each week to visit a designated facility.
  • Be free from any conflicts of interest.
  • Not have a member of their immediate family, friend, or other relative in the facility that they serve.
  • Abide by The Ombudsman Code of Ethics.
What are Volunteer Ombudsman services?
Volunteer Ombudsman can provide information and education to residents, their families, and facility staff about residents’ rights.

Their interaction with residents and facility staff improves the quality of life and can enable facilities to improve quality of care.

Make a difference in someone’s life, become a Volunteer Ombudsman for the South Carolina Department on Aging. Call us at 843-554-2280 or email: volunteerombudsman@tridentaaa.org

Are you the missing piece?
"During my visit today I was able to dabble a bit on the piano while the residents gathered for the diner crowd, and I also assisted one Miss X with a jigsaw puzzle. I had a great time during my visit today :)"
  • Volunteer Ombudsman
Without a visitor to speak with, sing or dance with, share a story or assemble a puzzle, the life of a senior is not complete. Please take this opportunity today to make the life of a senior complete. Contact the Volunteer Ombudsman Program at 843-554-2275 or volunteerombudsman@tridentaaa.org
Specific Resident's Rights
Rights to Self-Determination
Residents have the right:

  • To choose their personal physician.
  • To full information, in advance, and participation in planning and making any changes in their care and treatment.
  • To reside and receive services with reasonable accommodation by the facility of the individual needs and preferences; to voice grievances about care or treatment they do or do not receive without discrimination or reprisal, and to receive prompt responses from the facility; and to organize and participate in resident groups (and their families have the right to organize family groups) in the facility.
Personal and Privacy Rights
Residents have the right:

  • To participate in social, religious and community activities as they choose.
  • To privacy in medical treatment, accommodations, personal visits, written and telephone conversations and meetings of resident and family groups.
  • To confidentiality of personal and clinical records.
Rights Regarding Abuse and Restraints
Residents have the right:

  • To be free from physical or mental abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion or disciplinary use of restraints.
  • To be free of restraints.
  • To have restraints used only under written physician’s orders.
  • To be given psychopharmacologic medication only as ordered by a physician.
Rights to Information
Long Term Care Facilities Must:

  • Provide residents with the latest inspection results and any plan of correction submitted by the facility.
  • Notify residents in advance of any plans to change their rooms or roommate.
  • Inform residents of their rights upon admissions and provide a written copy of the rights including their rights regarding personal funds and their right to file a complaint with the state survey agency.
  • Inform residents in writing, at admission and throughout their stay, of the services available under the basic rate and of any extra charges for extra services.
  • Prominently display and provide oral and written information for residents about how to apply for and use Medicaid benefits.
Transfer and Discharge Rights
Long Term Care Facilities “must permit each resident to remain in the facility and must not transfer or discharge the resident unless:”

  • The transfer or discharge is necessary to meet the resident’s needs.
  • Health has improved and resident no longer needs skilled care.
  • The health or safety of other residents is endangered.
  • The resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay an allowable facility charge for services rendered.
  • The facility ceases to operate.
Notice Must Be Given to Residents and Their Representatives before Transfer/Discharge
  • Timing: At least 30 days in advance, more immediate changes in health require more immediate transfer;
  • Content: Reasons for transfer or discharge, the resident has the right to appeal the transfer or discharge, and the name, address and phone number of the Ombudsman Program