United States Senate Special Committee on Aging

Improving and Expanding Long Term Care

Older Americans Act Programs
Senator Kohl is a strong supporter of the programs under the Older Americans Act (OAA) and supported its successful reauthorization in 2006. The OAA programs are extremely valuable for senior citizens across the nation. They provide funding for senior centers, congregate and home-delivered meals, elder abuse protection and support for family caregivers. As an original cosponsor of the Family Caregiver Support Act, which ensures that family members who care for an elderly or disabled relative receive the support and respite services they need, Senator Kohl was pleased to see its inclusion in the reauthorization.
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Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program plays a key role in protecting the elderly and disabled. In every state, ombudsmen serve as advocates for patients, helping them resolve complaints of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. Unfortunately, a lack of resources and staff make it difficult for the state ombudsman programs to serve the large number of people who require their services, leaving patients vulnerable to substandard care. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Improving the Quality of Long-Term Care, noted the importance of routine, on-site presence of ombudsman in detecting problems before they become serious. The report recommended one ombudsman for every 2,000 nursing home residents.
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Nursing Home Survey & Certification
During the past several years, government and news reports have documented cases of abuse, neglect, and malnutrition in too many nursing homes across the country. In 1998, the GAO found that more than one-third of nursing homes had serious care problems and that current safeguards were inadequate to protect nursing home residents. In response, the Clinton Administration created a new Nursing Home Initiative and the Bush Administration is continuing that effort. The Nursing Home Initiative requires states to make inspections less predictable, to respond quickly to complaints, and to refer deficiencies for immediate sanctions.
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