An ombudsman in long-term care talks to us in OT class…


We had a lawyer named Sandy come in, who served as an ombudsman for long-term care in this region (I guess she specializes in geriatrics?). An ombudsman is a Swedish term for a person who serves as a citizen advocate. People can complain to her about long-term care via almost any media.

She pointed out that a lot of time, when investigating the claim, the problems were that very nice & good healthcare providers had gotten burnt out and overwhelmed over time, and ended up making big errors, at the expense of the client, obviously. I thought this was interesting but also scary. Right now we students are so “fresh” and enthusiastic and sure we are going to be so evidence-based, occupation-focused, client-centered, holistic, etc…but I know the healthcare system ends up jading a lot of us. I don’t think anyone goes into an occupation saying “hey I think I’ll get a master’s degree so I can be a big giant be-ouch to everyone I meet and treat my patients like meat and make them angry!” This leads to her next point, which is that we need to be aware of our own boundaries and limitations – if we are not self-aware, we end up hurting not only ourselves, but others. And we put our occupation -as occupational therapists ha ha – in jeapordy. I can never spell that right. jeapardy. Jeopardy. There.

I asked if an ombudsman for long-term care had to have a certain type of degree, and she said that they are usually a social worker, nurse, or attorney. I thought that was interesting and wondered why an OT couldn’t do that job.

She reminded us that while a lot of people have dementia and may say crazy things, we still need to pay attention – while it is not common, sometimes there ARE predators masquerading as healthcare providers. A little scary to think about – your interpretation of a person’s rantings may make a big difference. Augh.

I’m kind of skipping around and just hitting on the things I found most interesting…my disclaimer as always is that it was y own understanding of the lecture and not iron-clad fact.

The final thing I want to talk about is she discussed a recent fad in moving out of large institutions and trying to get people back in their homes (Again via home modification, assistive devices, aging in place measures, etc)…or if not homes, maybe cottages or green homes where the place is MUCH smaller and made to be more like a house.

I enjoyed hearing about her job and it made me aware of all the people out there doing jobs I don’t even think about. I am glad people like her are there to help protect our elderly. I think the main message I got out of her lecture was to be self-aware and try to treat our elderly people with the respect and dignity they all deserve. Because if we don’t, people like her will come after us!!

Jan 31, 2008 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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