143B-181.18. Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program/State Ombudsman duties.

The State Ombudsman shall perform the duties provided below:

(1) Promote community involvement with long-term care providers and residents of long-term care facilities and serve as liaison between residents, residents' families, facility personnel, and facility administration.

(2) Supervise the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program pursuant to rules adopted by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to G.S. 143B-10.

(3) Certify regional ombudsmen. Certification requirements shall include an internship, training in the aging process, complaint resolution, long-term care issues, mediation techniques, recruitment and training of volunteers, and relevant federal, State, and local laws, policies, and standards.

(3a) Designate certified Regional Ombudsmen as representatives of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman as well as refuse, suspend, or remove designation as a representative of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in accordance with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Policies and Procedures.

(3b) Designate and refuse, suspend, or remove designation of volunteer representatives of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, including any community advisory committee appointees, in accordance with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Policies and Procedures.

(4) Attempt to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of individuals who are residents of long-term care facilities, which complaints relate to administrative action that may adversely affect the health, safety, or welfare of residents.

(5) Provide training and technical assistance to regional ombudsmen.

(6) Establish procedures for appropriate access by regional ombudsmen to long-term care facilities and residents' files, records, and other information, including procedures to protect the confidentiality of these files, records, and other information and to ensure that the identity of any complainant or resident will not be disclosed except as permitted under the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq. and regulations promulgated thereunder.

(7) Analyze data relating to complaints and conditions in long-term care facilities to identify significant problems and recommend solutions.

(8) Prepare an annual report containing data and findings regarding the types of problems experienced and complaints reported by residents as well as recommendations for resolutions of identified long-term care issues.

(9) Prepare findings regarding public education and community involvement efforts and innovative programs being provided in long-term care facilities.

(10) Provide information to public agencies, and through the State Ombudsman, to legislators, and others regarding problems encountered by residents or providers as well as recommendations for resolution.

(11) Provide leadership for statewide systems advocacy efforts of the Office on behalf of long-term care residents, including independent determinations and positions that shall not be required to represent the position of the State agency or other agency within which the Ombudsman Program is organizationally located. Provide coordination of systems advocacy efforts with representatives of the Office as outlined in Ombudsman Policies and Procedures.

(12) To the extent required to meet the requirement of the Older Americans Act and regulations promulgated thereunder regarding allotments for Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Activities, the State Ombudsman and representatives of the Office are excluded from any State lobbying prohibitions under requirements to conduct systems advocacy on behalf of long-term care residents.

(13) Determine the use of the fiscal resources as required by 42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq. and regulations promulgated thereunder. (1989, c. 403, s. 1; 1995, c. 254, s. 3; 1997-443, s. 11A.118(a); 2015-220, s. 2; 2017-103, s. 1(c).)