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  • Mary Jane Wolper

Citizen Advocates for Nursing Home Residents

Guest Blogger: Mary Jane Wolper, Volunteer Coordinator for The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program for NYC

On September 27, 2022, I served on a Gray Panthers-hosted panel discussion – Grassroots Voices, Taking on Nursing Home Transformation – comprised of advocates for the residents of nursing homes. Our program is grateful for the support of community partners like the Gray Panthers.

The pandemic has clearly exacerbated the ongoing nursing home challenges of short staffing and lack of transparency about the rights of nursing home residents. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) is a federally-mandated advocacy program for these residents giving them their voice and helping enforce their rights. It is administered through the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York.

The panel was clear that nursing homes should not be isolated institutions that exist only to warehouse our elders and people with disabilities. By actively engaging and volunteering within these facilities, changes can be made.

I define our volunteer ombudsmen as “citizen advocates.” These volunteers are certified by the state and agree to be the ombudsmen for the residents of a facility in their neighborhood. Anyone can apply to become an ombudsman and make a difference either by serving as an ombudsman to help enforce residents’ rights or by becoming a friendly visitor.

All of the panelists agreed that much more needs to be done – discussing these issues is the first important step.

For more information on LTCOP in NYC please visit


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