On June 7, the Interim Rules Review Committee unanimously approved Ombudsman Services Rules brought by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The rules clarify and administer ombudsman services for long-term care (LTC) facilities and home-and community-based alternative living centers in the state of South Dakota. The rules created sections §46:33:02:01 through §46:33:02:04, which include definitions, required ombudsman services, ombudsman access to LTC facilities, and the posting of an ombudsman’s information within the LTC facility.
The new rules require an ombudsman to provide a set list of services for residents. These services include but are not limited to, identifying and resolving complaints on behalf of a LTC resident, representing the interests of a resident before governmental agencies, informing residents and families about how to access legal services, and educating LTC facility staff concerning the rights and welfare of residents. The new rules also require ombudsman access to LTC facilities and files concerning a resident if necessary to investigate a complaint.
Finally, the rules require every LTC facility to post the ombudsman’s toll-free number, name, address, and the number of their office. In addition, this information must also be given to any new resident, family members, and legal guardians upon facility admission.