What is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, personal care homes, and family care homes. The ombudsman provides information about how to obtain quality long-term care. They are trained to resolve problems, protect the rights of residents, and promote individual dignity and self-determination. If you want, the ombudsman can assist you with complaints; however, unless you give the ombudsman permission to share your concerns, these matters are kept confidential.

Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long term care system.

Ombudsman responsibilities outlined in the Older Americans Act include:

Identify, investigate, and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents

Provide information to residents about long-term care services and their rights

Represent the interests of residents before governmental agencies and seek administrative, legal, and other remedies to protect residents

Analyze, comment on, and recommend changes in laws and regulations pertaining to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents

Educate and inform consumers and the general public regarding issues and concerns related to institutional long-term care and facilitate public comment on laws, regulations, policies, and actions

Promote the development of citizen organizations and volunteers to participate in the program

Provide technical support for the development of resident and family councils to protect the well-being and rights of residents

Advocate for changes to improve residents quality of life and care

Choosing a Nursing Home

Making the decision to move into a nursing home or other long-term care facility is a new experience for most people. We can provide information that will help you know what questions to ask and how to evaluate the answers when talking to nursing homes about placement. We can also help you locate available information on facilities. A consumer guide to locating a nursing home and other services, may be obtained through the following websites:

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

Downloadable Document from Medicare

Also, comparative information on nursing homes can be accessed at the following website:
Medicare Website


The ombudsman program was created in 1972 as a Public Health Service demonstration project to meet the needs of residents facing problems in nursing homes. The demonstration, which consisted of ombudsman programs in seven states, was transferred to the Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1974. After three years of operation and a successful assessment of the projects, Dr. Arthur Flemming, Commissioner on Aging, offered each state agency on aging an opportunity to apply for limited federal funds to develop a state-wide program through the advocacy of newly named Ombudsman Developmental Specialists.

In 1978 Congress amended the Older Americans Act to include a requirement that each state develop a Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. New statutory requirements for the program were added and existing requirements were strengthened in subsequent amendments to the Act. The ombudsman program, which began as a demonstration project, marked its 30th birthday in 2002. In a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) press release, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson noted that “For 30 years the nation’s volunteer ombudsmen have worked to protect nursing home residents and improve the quality of care. They are a trusted source of support and information, and they can make a real difference in helping families get the best possible care.”

Finding out more about National Trends in Nursing Home Reform

The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) was formed because of public concern about substandard care in nursing homes. NCCNHR provides information and leadership on federal and state regulatory and legislative policy development and models and strategies to improve care and life for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Click HERE for the NCCNHR website.


In addition to visiting long-term care facilities on a regular basis and resolving complaints, an Ombudsman is an advocate for the nearly 36,000 residents of nursing facilities, personal care homes and family care homes in Kentucky. In federal fiscal year 2000, Kentucky’s Ombudsman program handled over 7,000 complaints. In ffy 2001 the number of complaints increased to nearly 11,000. One important way the Ombudsman Program is able to meet the increasing demands is through the use of volunteers. Volunteers provide community accountability to facilities and expand the paid ombudsman’s capacity to visit multiple facilities. Volunteers can be used to make friendly visits to residents and, after becoming certified, can handle complaints.

If you would like to be involved in improving the quality of care and life of residents of long-term care facilities, you can volunteer by calling your district ombudsman at the phone number that is listed in this brochure.

How do I contact an Ombudsman?

For assistance in the Buffalo Trace District contact:
Amanda Grooms
606-564-6894 or 800-998-4347
Email Amanda HERE

Or to find the ombudsman that serves your area, contact the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at:

Toll Free: 1-800-372-2991

Or you can write to:

Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
275 East Main Street
3 W-F
Frankfort KY 40621

You can also call your district ombudsman at one of the toll-free numbers listed below. You do not have to give your name. The ombudsman will keep the information you give confidential unless you grant permission to disclose your identity.

Purchase 1-877-352-5183
Pennyrile 1-800-928-7233
Green River 1-800-928-9093
Barren River 1-800-355-7580
Lincoln Trail 1-800-292-1862
KIPDA (Louisville Area) 1-800-854-3233
Northern KY 1-800-255-7265
Buffalo Trace 1-800-998-4347
Gateway 1-800-274-5863
FIVCO 1-877-295-4137
Big Sandy 1-800-737-2723
KY River 1-800-928-5723
Cumberland Valley 1-800-795-7654
Lake Cumberland 1-877-770-7778
Bluegrass (Lexington Area ) 1-877-787-0077

This project is funded, in part, under a contract with the Buffalo Trace Area Development District & the KY Cabinet for Health Services with funds from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.