Friday, January 13, 2012

Greetings from New Jersey's Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Ombudsman McCracken with his mother.
On December 6, I celebrated my first year as New Jersey’s Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly. And I must say that these last 12 months have been some of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding of my entire career in long-term care.

As a former long-term care administrator, I was familiar with the important work of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly and the advocacy this office provides. I was also familiar with the Office’s highly successful volunteer advocate program, having worked with excellent volunteer advocates in the past.

Coming into this job, I knew less about another important role played by the Ombudsman’s office: to provide guidance to LTC residents, family members and facility staff facing challenging medical/ethical decisions – like withholding life-sustaining treatment or weighing medically futile interventions. Much of this work is accomplished by providing technical assistance to Regional Ethics Committees located throughout the state. I am pleased to report in this issue of The Beacon that we are hard at work re-energizing our Regional Ethics Committees and, just this month, we hosted two major end-of-life training sessions for REC members and others who work in the long-term care field. 

Since joining the Ombudsman’s office, I have tried to make the important work of our office more visible by: seeking out speaking engagements in a wide variety of venues from senior centers to veteran’s homes; rebranding all of the Office’s informational materials; exhibiting information about the OOIE at major conferences and conventions throughout the state; creating a dialogue with other service provider and advocacy organizations; and identifying and supporting policy and legislative initiatives at both the state and federal level that will benefit older New Jerseyans.

I hope you enjoy this inaugural issue of The Beacon. And I wish each of you a happy and healthy New Year.

- James W. McCracken

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