The mission of The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc. (NHOA) is to improve the quality of care for residents of long-term care facilities. These are nursing homes, family care homes, and personal care homes.
Ombudsman is a Swedish word for advocate. NHOA’s long-term care ombudsmen are independent advocates who:
- Protect the rights of nursing home residents;
- Identify, investigate and work to resolve residents’ concerns;
- Empower residents to make informed choices;
- Monitor and work to enact laws protecting older and disabled Kentuckians; and
- Make regular friendly visits to residents.
The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass is an independent, nonprofit agency headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. NHOA was founded in 1981 by citizens concerned about conditions in area nursing homes. They organized to provide advocacy services to frail, vulnerable elders and people with disabilities using the federal Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program as the authorizing framework and model.
They assembled a volunteer Board of Directors, along with an Advisory Board of relevant professionals and a committee of nursing home residents. They recruited ombudsmen from the neighborhood of each nursing home to visit with residents and monitor the quality of care. From this beginning—four volunteer ombudsmen in four Lexington nursing homes—came the current agency.
Today, NHOA’s Bluegrass District Ombudsman Program is a nationally recognized program serving more than 5,250 long-term care residents in 17 Central Kentucky counties. NHOA employs a corps of about 30 certified ombudsmen who regularly visit residents, monitor the quality of care, and provide comprehensive advocacy services. The Bluegrass District also operates a Friendly Visitor program, which matches volunteers with long-term care residents who need ongoing companionship.
Since September 2014, Kentucky’s Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) has contracted with NHOA to operate the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Kentucky has 15 District Ombudsmen who coordinate ombudsmen services in each of the state’s Area Development Districts. As the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Sherry Culp (NHOA’s President) heads the statewide program and provides technical assistance to district ombudsmen. Sherry is assisted by two Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsmen.