Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program UPDATE Newsletter

Volume  8                   Issue  1              February  2014

In this issue:  

  • February is “Go Red for Women” Month
  • The Power of Hope
  • Transfer Trauma
  • The Continuum of Senior Care
  • Volunteer Ombudsman Training Coming Up in March!


 February is “Go Red for Women” Month

The American Heart Association has named February “Go Red for Women” month to raise awareness of the number of women affected by heart attack or stroke. In fact, it is the number one killer of women.  Especially after menopause, the number of women who have heart attacks increases dramatically. 

The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health organization devoted to reducing disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

The funds raised through the “Go Red for Women” initiative are used to help women by offering educational programs, advancing women’s understanding about their risk for heart disease and providing tools and motivation to help women reduce their risk and protect their health. 

Recommendations by the American Heart Association to reduce the risk of heart disease for women over 60 include:

  • Know your risk and how you can manage it.  There is a tool called the Go Red Heart CheckUp that can be found at the American Heart Association website.
  • Know your target numbers: 
    • Cholesterol 200 mg or lower
    • HDL (good) cholesterol 50 mg or higher
    • LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg
    • Triglycerides 150 mg or lower
    • Blood pressure less than 150/90 mm, according to the American Medical Association
    • Body Mass Index less than 25 kg
    • Waist circumference less than 35 in
  • Keep moving—make physical activity a top priority.  Check with your doctor about types of exercises that would be good for you.  It is recommended that even taking 10- minutes walks several times a day can be beneficial.  The goal is to get 40 minutes of exercise three to four times per week.  Cardio and strength training, as well as weight lifting, water aerobics and yoga are good exercises for seniors.
  • Eat heart-healthy meals.  Recommendations include colorful fruits and vegetables that are rich in nutrients, lean meat, skinless chicken, fish rich in omega-3, and fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy.

 February 14 is Valentine’s Day - HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!


The Power of Hope

Dr. Dale Archer, a clinical psychiatrist and author specializing in treating the whole person, wrote an article on “The Power of Hope” in Psychology Today (July 31, 2013).  In this article, Dr. Archer states that having hope is an amazing strength, and can supply a “belief that you will overcome, you will persevere and you will endure anything and everything that comes your way.” He believes that hope alone is enough to make all the difference in the outcome.

While working with people who suffered in Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Archer found that there are two different types of survivors: psychological victims and psychological survivors.  He realized that his primary responsibility was to turn the victim mindset into a survivor mindset.  This meant restoring or instilling hope, which empowers a person to face the toughest of times and emerge a survivor.  To accomplish this, three things are important:

  • Faith:  Dr. Archer describes faith as the belief that there is something bigger and more important than you that could mean God, a higher power, a child, a loved one, a mission or a cause.  Believing in something bigger gives a person reason to go on.
  • Gratitude:  Dr. Archer encourages us to focus on what we have to be thankful for, not on what we don’t have or what we have lost, or what we want.  He said to remind ourselves of this everyday.
  • Love:  Dr. Archer urges a person to think about the people in their life that they love and those that love them, their family and friends.  By making it a point to connect with each of them often, whether in person, by phone call, text or email is important.

This article, originally released on July 13, 2013, is reprinted with the permission of Dr. Dale Archer.


Transfer Trauma

Change can be difficult for everyone.  Have you heard of the term, “Transfer Trauma?”  According to the Wisconsin Relocation Ombudsman Specialist, Tom LaDuke, transfer trauma is a term that is used to describe physical, mental, and emotional changes that occur in residents of institutional settings who are moved from one place to another.  This can be the result of a natural disaster, or a facility closing, or a change in care.  Some of the physical issues that appear include disorientation, falls, contusions, fractures, infections and increased difficulties with medical conditions.  Some of the psychological issues include increased anxiety, confusion, agitation and depression.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, these effects can result in increased illness rates and even the risk of death.  Transfer trauma is a recognized diagnosis.  It is a normal reaction to change.

Transfer trauma can occur even when a resident is being moved to a new room in the same facility, sometimes due to needing a different level of care.  Even the smallest changes can adversely affect a resident’s health, emotions, and psychological well-being.  It is recommended that staff prepare residents for changes prior to any move, during the move and following it.  Some of the behaviors can appear several weeks after the move takes place.  If a resident is being moved due to a planned discharge, the discharge planning meeting can put steps in place to minimize the possible effects from transfer trauma.

If there is no room at another long-term care facility, residents may be evacuated to a shelter.  Sometimes, this can be a gymnasium or cafeteria that has mattresses on the floor.  For those residents who need to have their heads elevated, this can be problematic, especially for those with congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Caregivers can use boxes or other methods for keeping the residents’ heads elevated. Having the caregivers at the relocation area prepared for receiving the residents is very important. When transfer trauma does occur, the staff can help the resident by reassuring them, maintaining daily routines, and orienting the resident to their new surroundings.  Open communication with the resident is essential—letting them know what’s happening during the transfer so that they can express their needs and be a part of the process.  It is crucial that staff ensure that the resident’s medical records travel with them.  Also, staff need to monitor the residents being transferred for any difficulties in getting the care they need; for example, if the resident needs ventilator or dialysis services.



Many older adults will enter a health care setting at different points in their lifespan due to the aging process.  Here is a description of choices available to help with understanding the different types of health care settings.

  • The Acute Care Hospital focuses on acute illnesses, injuries, exacerbations of chronic, diseases such as cardiopulmonary conditions, orthopedic problems, and various cancer treatments.  The goal is to promote recovery or maintain the level of functioning through quality care and preventing complications.
  • Acute Rehabilitation is an intensive, interdisciplinary approach to providing care.  The team can consist of nurses, therapists, physicians, and other specialists, providing three or more hours of combined therapies.  Referrals can be due to conditions such as stroke, head trauma, neurological diseases, amputation, spinal cord injury, and orthopedic surgery.
  • Transitional/Progressive Care Unit is for medically stable patients who are beyond the acute illness or injury phase, but are not ready to return home.  They may need short-term skilled nursing due to wound care, gait training, or intravenous therapy.  The goal is for patients to transition to wellness.
  • Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) may be stand-alone hospitals or located within a hospital.  The LTACH provides extended medical and rehabilitative care to patients with clinically complex problems who need hospital-level of care for an extended period, usually about 25 days.  Some of these patients might be classified as needing intensive care.  
  • Home Health Care is for people who may be homebound due to a serious illness or disability.  Physical, occupational, and speech therapies that are medically necessary must be ordered by a health care professional.  The resident must have an in-depth assessment and evaluation by the health care professional to show that their health condition qualifies them for home health services in order to be reimbursed as allowable expenses.
  • Long-Term Care Facilities are often referred to as nursing homes and are subject to federal standards.  Most residents are not able to take care of themselves due to illness, disability, or dementia.  Services provided can be rehabilitation, skilled care, while recovering from surgery, extended illness, dementia care and wound care.  Some Long-Term Care Facilities have dedicated units for middle to late stage Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
  • Adult Day Services are delivered in a group setting and can include health care, meals, and activities.  This is usually done by a combination of organizations, such as churches, hospitals, or health care systems to provide care.  The advantage of an Adult Day Services program is that a person can stay at home, then go to the center during the day to receive services while their caregiver can go to work or have respite.  This arrangement is good for people with chronic health conditions, cognitive impairment, limited mobility or physical disabilities, and safety concerns.
  • Assisted Living Facility can be a freestanding facility or part of a long-term care facility.  Residents can function on their own, but may need assistance with activities of daily living or are in need of a safe environment.  Assisted living facilities provide meals and activities, and common rooms for games and entertainment to promote socialization.  They are licensed by the state and abide by quality standards set by the state.
  • Continuing Care Communities offer a range of levels of care from independent living to skilled nursing care in a nursing home setting, where residents can move to a higher level of care as needed.  Sometimes this would involve moving to a different area of the community, and sometimes it would involve receiving home health care services.  Their emphasis is on wellness and health promotion to maintain the highest level of functioning.
  • Foster Care or Group Homes provide a homelike atmosphere for older adults who can perform some activities of daily living and need help with others.  The residents may have different physical and medical needs.  The home size can vary from just a few residents to eight.  In Virginia, group homes of four or more residents are licensed by the state Department of Social Services.
  • Hospice Care is a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to care that provides palliative care to those patients at the end of life.  Hospice is based on the coordination of all health care professionals to manage pain for and making the person as comfortable as possible.  Hospice care can be delivered in a range of settings, from an assisted living facility, to a nursing facility, or at home or in a hospital, or in a stand-alone facility.

The information in this article is a condensed version of “Understanding the Continuum of Senior Care” (2013) Senior Care Central, LLC.  Used with permission given 1/6/2014.


Need Information or Have a Concern About Nursing or Assisted Living Facilities?  The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program can help.  Contact us at:

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

Fax: 703-653-1796

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.


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


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 skilledcommunicators to be Volunteer Ombudsmen.   As an Ombudsman you will be assigned to visit a local nursing or assisted living facility, working to ensure that the 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 2-day training will be March 17 and 27, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information and to obtain an application form, please and click on Volunteer Ombudsman or call 703-324-5861, TTY 711;or e-mail


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 (voice); 711 (TTY).   This publication has been created or produced by Fairfax County with financial assistance, in whole or in part, from the Administration for Community Living and/or the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

A Fairfax County, Va. publication. February 2014

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
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