This Living Local segment is sponsored by United Way of Central Alabama.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local ) – The United Way Area Agency on Aging provides various services to help our serious and their caregivers. Morgan Rhodes sat down with us to explain the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and how it can benefit you. and your family.

“The word ‘Ombudsman’ seems like it’s a very weird word,” Rhodes laughed. “Most people don’t know what it is. It means someone that is a go-between or an advocate.”

In this case, Rhodes advocates for residents in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, boarding homes, and assisted living facilities. She works with individual residents and families to resolve questions or problems that residents may be experiencing at their facilities. An Ombudsman also works toward policy changes at the local, state, and national levels. 

“Residents do have rights,” Rhodes said. “They have the right to make choices. They have the right to receive visitors. They have the right to open and receive mail. They have the right to refuse or accept any medication that they want, or see any doctor that they want.”

Rhodes said if you have concerns about anything involving those basic-rights issues or just questions about ‘what should my nursing home experience be like?’ she urges people to call. “We can either answer questions or work with you and the facility to mediate any of those concerns,” said Rhodes.

If you or someone you know has concerns about a long-term care facility here in Jefferson county, call 1-800-AGE-LINE. “They will transfer you over to your local Ombudsman, and we will try to work with you to get any questions or concerns answered for you,” Rhodes said.

“We do accept anonymous concerns and complaints, and we do not tell the people that want to remain anonymous about who had called or made the complaints,” said Rhodes.

Call 1-800-AGE-LINE for direct access to information on the Long-Terms Care Ombudsman program and all other AAA services.