by Carol Leish, MA
As advocates, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman make a difference for residents in order to improve conditions. Sylvia Taylor-Stein, Executive Director of the Long-Term Care Services of Ventura County Ombudsman Program said, “Through advocating, the main services provided by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman include: 1) Facility Monitoring & Complaints Resolutions;2) Investigating and resolving complaints of neglect and abuse that may include physical, financial, psychological and/or verbal abuse. Another main service is: 3) Advanced Health Care Directives, which is a mandated duty that ensures an Ombudsman will witness all directives that are executed by residents in nursing facilities. Also, 4) Pre-placement Counseling, which informs, supports, and educates those who may be considering the placement of themselves or a loved one in a long-term care facility.”
Taylor-Stein has been executive director since 1999. She and her husband have five adult children, and live in Ventura County. She said, “My greatest inspiration in my life was my grandmother who died at age 92 after suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for 10 years. It was the love and deep respect for my grandmother that influenced my desire to become involved with the elderly and the exceptional work with the Ombudsman program. My grandmother was blessed to live and die at home with loving people around her. This is not the case for most of our elderly in long-term care. My goal is to help to build a strong ombudsman program her in Ventura County that can provide the effective advocacy, care and support that those living in long-term care facilities need and deserve.”
Taylor-Stein emphasized that, “No other organization is federally mandated and authorized, like we are, to go into long-term care facilities unscheduled and unannounced, and to advocate for the persons living there. Th Ombudsman is guaranteed access by federal and sate law to long-term care facilities and its residents. No other agency exists for this purpose or is guaranteed access to enter the facility, move unescorted and unhindered throughout the facility and to advocate for those who live there.”
The State of California has named the Ventura Ombudsman Program as a model program for its excellence and high standards-including weekly and monthly visitations to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. It is cited by the California Department of Aging as Best Practices in Volunteer Recruitments, Training and Retention. Also, the Ventura Ombudsman Program has been recognized for best practices in family and caregiver support and best practices in systems advocacy.
Taylor-Stein said, “There is always a need for more volunteers to be able to help out in such a meaningful way to ensure the best living situation for those at long-term care facilities. By visiting unscheduled and unannounced and meeting with residents and investigating their complaints/concerns, situations can/will improve. Volunteers also attend Resident Council meetings where residents in groups voice their issues and concerns. We also attend Care Plan meetings with residents in order to get firsthand knowledge of their care needs and how the facility will address their needs.”
“Main services provided by volunteers are: 1) Ombudsman Training/Certification/Re-certification, which is a mandated function of the program. This includes 25 classroom training hours plus 15 hours of field training to new volunteer recruits to ensure that they are prepared to take on facility assignments. Every year thereafter volunteers complete 18 hours per year in continuing education in order to qualify for annual rec-certification.”
Go to www.ombudsmanventura.org or call: (805) 656-1986 for those interested in becoming volunteers. “It’s rewarding and important work,” according to, Taylor-Stein. “You can download the application form on our website. After filling it out, you will be contacted to do a phone interview, followed by an in-person interview. Thank you for making an important difference for those living in long-term care facilities.”