Ventura County Ombudsman Program
Advocates for Seniors in Care Facilities
"Sixty percent of the seniors residing in Ventura County's long-term care facilities have no family or friends to visit them or speak on their behalf." That was the sobering news delivered by Daniel Uhlar, our meeting speaker on Monday, August 22. "They are, however, not without an advocate," said Dan, and he proceeded to tell the members and guests in attendance about the Ventura County Ombudsman, an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights and needs of elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes and other care facilities.
In Ventura County there are approximately 230 such facilities that house about 8,000 residents. Dan, who sits on the Board of the Ombudsman, explained that volunteers and staff representatives for the organization make unscheduled, unannounced weekly visits to all nursing homes in Ventura County and monthly visits to all assisted living facilities and board and care homes. "We visit with the residents," said Dan, "listen to their concerns, and help resolve them."
The Ombudsman operates with a lean staff of just five members, reinforced by a group of about 65 state-certified volunteers. Among the primary complaints they hear from facility residents are: not enough staff to handle resident needs, dietary issues, call lights ignored or not answered in a timely manner, personal items being lost or stolen, and language barriers that result in an inability to communicate with staff. Ombudsman representatives attempt to handle all concerns at the facility level, but are authorized to contact the state office for assistance in resolving issues.
Under federal authority from the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Ombudsman provides its services free of charge, relying on state funding, donations, and fundraising activities. There are 35 such programs within the State of California. For more information, visit