Ombudsman Access to Residents

Ombudsman Access to Residents

When nursing homes were directed to restrict visitation in March, CMS was clear that this included ombudsmen. However, this restriction did not waive the resident’s right to access the ombudsman program. Nursing homes are required to facilitate access to the ombudsman for residents, even in the face of COVID-19-era restrictions. CMS included this in an FAQ document released on June 23, and reiterated the expectation once again in a revised memo released July 9, QSO-20-28-NH-REVISED

The requirement to facilitate access to the ombudsman is now included in both regulation (Requirements of Participation, Section 483.10 Resident Rights) and in legislation (CARES Act). If the ombudsman cannot be permitted an in-person visit, the nursing home must facilitate in-person communication, such as a virtual visit or telephone access. CMS also reminds providers in this memo that providers must comply with federal disability rights, such as assisting residents with access to a qualified interpreter. CMS states that if qualified interpreter services cannot be provided on-site by staff or another service, the nursing home must access interpreter services through technology, such as video or phone interpreter services. If interpreter services cannot be access via technology, the nursing home must allow the interpreter to enter the facility, even under visitor restrictions. The nursing home should screen the interpreter and may require a face mask and/or PPE as appropriate.




Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN – Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services
c: 425-231-4804