Provisions in the Older Americans Act (OAA) state that Long-Term Care Ombudsmen (LTCO) shall “identify, investigate and resolve complaints” regarding “action, inaction, or decisions that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare or rights of the residents” made by, or on behalf of, residents. Complaints may include, but are not limited to, allegations of abuse, gross neglect and exploitation. Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are resident-centered advocates, directed by resident goals for complaint resolution and federal disclosure requirements; therefore, the LTCO role in investigating allegations of abuse is unique and differs from other entities such as, adult protective services and state licensing and certification agencies. These disclosure requirements mean that information shared with or gathered by the LTCO is confidential unless consent is obtained as described below in the OAA provisions. Furthermore, LTCO programs receive complaints from a variety of individuals (e.g. residents, family members, facility staff, representatives of other agencies), but due to strict requirements in the OAA, LTCO may not disclose the identity of the resident or complainant without receiving permission from the resident or complainant (or their legal representative).

Volunteers are the backbone of many Long-term Care Ombudsman Programs. With the help of volunteers, the Ombudsman program can have a regular presence in facilities and stay in touch with residents. Included are resources on recruitment, training, retention, and recognition of volunteers; materials from webinars hosted by the NORC; and volunteer management examples from Ombudsman programs around the country.