Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program UPDATE Newsletter
Volume 7 Issue 1 February 2013
In this issue:
- The Year of Elder Abuse Prevention
- Toolkit to Help Protect Elders from Abuse
- Adult Protective Services and the Ombudsman Program
- "Million Hearts" Program to Prevent One Million Heart Attacks and Strokes
- What does the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program do?
- The Volunteer Ombudsman Program is Recruiting for 2013
2013 is the Year of Elder Abuse Prevention
The federal Administration on Aging has proclaimed 2013 as the Year of Elder Abuse Prevention to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Each year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. This number is probably low since experts estimate that only one in five cases are reported.
Elder abuse takes many forms. Unfortunately, it is sometimes committed by a caregiver or trusted individual and it can cause terrible harm to a vulnerable elder. According to the Administration on Aging, forms of elder abuse may include financial exploitation, physical abuse, or neglect by a caregiver or self-neglect by an older adult, and/or emotional abuse.
Examples of financial exploitation include the failure by a caregiver with control over an older person's money to provide for their needs; excessive gifts or payment for care and companionship; and property transfers signed by an older adult whose competency is impaired.
Physical abuse can appear as unexplained fractures, bruises, sores, or burns. It can also appear as unexplained sexually transmitted disease. Neglect can appear as lack of basic hygiene, appropriate clothing, food or medical aids. Examples of this include a person with untreated bed sores or pressure ulcers; a person with dementia who is left unsupervised; or a home that is dirty, in disrepair or lacks electricity, plumbing, heating or cooling, and appliances.
Emotional abuse is a little harder to detect. Signs of emotional abuse include unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities or unexplained changes in alertness. This abuse can happen if a caregiver isolates the older person or is verbally aggressive, demeaning, controlling or uncaring.
Elder abuse could happen to anyone whether they are in a hospital or live at home or an assisted living or nursing facilities. It occurs in all socioeconomic and ethnic groups.
If you would like to find out what you can do to help protect older adults from elder abuse, you can find additional information on the Administration on Aging website at www.aoa.gov and select Elder Rights Protection.
TOOLS AVAILABLE TO PROTECT AGAINST ELDER ABUSE
If you visit the Administration on Aging website, you will find a toolkit, an outreach guide, and fact sheets to raise public awareness about elder abuse. The agency lists ten things you can do to help prevent elder abuse:
- Learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect.
- Call or visit elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors and ask how they are doing.
- Provide a respite for a caregiver by filling in for a few hours or more.
- Ask an older acquaintance to share his or her talents by teaching you or your children a new skill.
- Ask your faith leaders to discuss with their congregations elder abuse prevention and the importance of respecting older adults.
- Ask your bank manager to train tellers on how to detect financial exploitation of elders.
- Suggest your doctor talk to his or her older patients individually about possible abuse.
- Contact your local adult protective services or long-term care ombudsman program to learn how to support their work helping at-risk elders.
- Volunteer to be a friendly visitor to a nursing home resident or homebound elder in your community.
- Send a letter to your local paper, radio, or TV station suggesting it cover World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, or National Grandparents' Day, September 9.
You can act to protect seniors by reporting any suspected abuse to your local Adult Protective Services and to the Ombudsman Program. Contact information for both of these agencies follows.
Adult Protective Services (APS) Approach
Since only one in five cases of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation is reported, it is important to know about reporting procedures. Both the Ombudsman program and Adult Protective Services can look into situations where abuse and/or neglect are suspected.
Adult Protective Services investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults 60 years of age or older and incapacitated adults age 18 or older. Once a report is received, an APS worker will assess the situation for service needs and determine whether the adult in question needs protective services. If protective services are needed and accepted by the individual, local APS workers may arrange for a wide variety of health, housing, social and legal services to stop the mistreatment or prevent further mistreatment.
Anyone can report a suspected incident of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It just takes a phone call. Some potential reporters worry about their identity being revealed to the adult in question. However, state law requires that the identity of people who report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation be kept strictly confidential. Some people, known as mandated reporters, are required by law to immediately report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation.
To make a report to Adult Protective Services, call the county hotline in which the adult resides:
Arlington County: 703-228-1350, TTY 711
City of Alexandria: 703-746-5778, TTY 711
Fairfax County: 703-324-7450, TTY 711
Loudoun County: 703-777-0353, TTY 711
Prince William County: 703-792-4200, TTY 711
Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Approach:
The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office, like Adult Protective Services, investigates reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation. However, the Ombudsman acts only at the direction and consent of the consumer or their authorized representative. The Ombudsman will investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint and advocate for the rights of residents. The Ombudsman is not a mandated reporter, which means that an Ombudsman does not have to report abuse to the authorities.
Another way the Ombudsman Program differs from Adult Protective Services is that it covers five jurisdictions: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William.
Need Information or Have a Concern About Nursing or Assisted Living Facilities? Contact us at:
Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 708
Fairfax, VA 22035
Offices hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Intake Line: 703-324-5861, TTY 711
Email us at NVLTCOP@FairfaxCounty.Gov
To view information on the NVLTCOP website and to see the Investigation and Complaint Log, please go to: www.FairfaxCounty.Gov/LTCOmbudsman.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has specified February as the month for their "Million Hearts: campaign. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are also co-leaders in this effort to improve cardiovascular health across the nation and to make a long-lasting impact on preventing heart disease and stroke. The goal of "Million Hearts" is to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
Some activities to achieve this include:
- Educational awareness campaigns to increase awareness about heart disease prevention and empower patients to take control of their heart health.
- The use of health information technology to improve the delivery of care for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Promoting community efforts to educate people about smoke-free air policies and to reduce the amount of sodium in food.
"Million Hearts" has outlined five steps that each person can do to reach the goal of reducing one million heart attacks and strokes:
- Prevent heart disease and stroke in your families by understanding the risks of heart disease.
- Get up and get active by exercising for 30 minutes several days a week.
- Know your ABCS:
Appropriate aspirin therapy
Blood pressure control
4. Stay strong by eating a heart-healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol.
5. Take control of your heart health by following your doctor's instructions for medications and treatment.
Heart disease is responsible for one of every three deaths in the country. "Million Hearts" is a national initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the next 5 years. You can learn more about this program by going to http.millionhearts.hhs.gov/. There are tools available on this website to help you learn what your heart attack risk is, a blood pressure calculator, and an interactive atlas of heart disease and stroke that can show the geographic differences at the local level.
What an Ombudsman does:
- Advocates for improving the quality of life for persons receiving long-term care services
- Resolves complaints against long-term care providers through counseling, negotiation, and investigation
- Provides information about long-term care providers to help make an informed decision
- Educates the community about long-term care issues
- Visits residents of long-term care facilities on a weekly basis through our volunteer program
- Trains long-term care staff on long-term care related information
- Consults with providers
The Virginia Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is now part of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Volunteer Ombudsmen Needed For Residents in Long-Term Care
The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is looking for people who are empathetic, diplomatic, assertive and skilled communicators to be Volunteer Ombudsmen. As an Ombudsman you will be assigned to visit a local nursing or assisted living facility, working to ensure that residents' rights are being protected, and helping residents with problems that they are unable to resolve alone. Volunteer Ombudsmen dedicate four hours per week for one year. Visits must occur between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. Ongoing training and support provided. The next initial 3?day training will be March 11, 13 and 21, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information and to obtain an application form, please visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/LTCOmbudsman and select Volunteer Ombudsman; call 703-324-5861, TTY 711; or e-mail Lisa.Callahan@Fairfaxcounty.gov.
The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in all programs and services. To request reasonable accommodations or alternate formats, call 703-324-5861; TTY 711.
This publication has been created or produced by Fairfax County with financial assistance, in whole or in part, from the Administration on Aging and/or the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
A Fairfax County, Va. publication. February 2013