We’ve talked before about the importance of being an advocate for your loved one, due to the limited resources our state has to perform certain functions. We’re honored to have the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, John McDermott, here with us to talk more about what his office does to prevent abuse. But what is an ombudsman?
In John’s words, an “ombudsman is really someone who is working behind the scenes so that you don’t get the runaround, so that if you have a complaint, this person can tell you where to go, or will go there to find out for you.” The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program’s home page is online and at your service at the link.
Elder-care facilities have to follow certain best practices, and John’s office serves to intervene when they fail in these duties.
In a perfect world, this kind of watchdog would not be necessary. Attorney Anthony Carr, our guest host this episode, raises an excellent point:
We want to be objective, and we want to be transparent. At least in theory that’s true, but what are our priorities as a society? Well, it’s a priority to make sure that employees are going to do their duties as expected, it’s a priority to make sure that unsafe food is not given to consumers. But it is not a significant priority so far, as much as we might want to think it is and talk about it, to recognize the health and wellbeing of elderly folks as a priority we need to do something about and dedicate resources to, and not just talk about.
The perfect counter-example is John and his office, an incredible force for these values that society has yet to honestly embrace. They work hard to stem the tide of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, in spite of the broad lack of urgency regarding these issues. Their hearts are in it, and they do it for the right reasons.
Click play and learn about the current situation in Hawai‘i, as well as the efforts underway to make it a safer, more dignified place for people to spend their golden years. You can also read about John in the Civil Beat’s recent article, “Did Hawai‘i Lawmakers Do Enough To Protect The Elderly?“