May 2, 2013
Jackie Majoros, Vermont Long Term Care Ombudsman, Vermont Legal Aid
(BURLINGTON) Vermont welcomed 70 participants from 41 states for the Annual State Long Term Care Ombudsman National Training Conference held April 27-30. Hosted by the Vermont Long Term Care Ombudsman Project at Vermont Legal Aid, the conference was held at the Courtyard Marriott in Burlington.
Participants and presenters included State Long Term Care Ombudsmen as well as representatives from the Administration on Aging, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Ombudsman Resource Center, the National Association of State Units on Aging and Disabilities, and the Vermont Survey and Certification Agency.
Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the attendees and was recognized by Joe Rodrigues, the President of the National Association of State Ombudsman Programs, for his commitment to seniors and his work on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.
Susan Wehry, M.D., Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Disabilities Aging and Independent Living, welcomed the participants. Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs, and Louise Ryan, Ombudsman Program Specialist, both from the Administration for Community Living/ Administration on Aging in Washington D.C., engaged in a dialog with the attendees about how to meet the challenges they face in this rapidly changing long term care landscape.
A highlight for the participants was a pre-conference visit to the Vermont State House on April 26, where a resolution honoring the state ombudsmen was read.
“The participants were amazed that the Vermont State House is still so accessible to the public,” said Jackie Majoros, Vermont’s State Long Term Care Ombudsman and the organizer of this year’s conference. “Many of them commented about the friendliness of everyone they encountered at the State House.”
In 1972, the federal government funded nursing home ombudsman demonstration projects in five states to“respond in a responsible and constructive way to complaints made by or on behalf of individual nursing home patients.” In 1975, the Older Americans Act authorized funding for state ombudsman programs and, in 1978, Congress required every state to have an Ombudsman Program and specifically defined ombudsman functions and responsibilities.Congress expanded the program to include residential care homes in 1981. Amendments added in 1992 strengthened the program and established a Director of Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs at the Administration on Aging. Vermont’s first ombudsman program was established in 1975.