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Lead Regional Ombudsman

Donna Thomason
Regional Ombudsman
Buncombe & Madison

Donna Case
Regional Ombudsman
Buncombe & Transylvania County


For free, confidential help any time of the day.

Ombudsman Program

What is an Ombudsman?
“Ombudsman” is a Swedish word meaning citizen representative.  An Ombudsman in this program is an advocate or friend for residents of Long Term care facilities. 

A Long Term Care Ombudsman serves as a mediator who seeks to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of people living in Long Term care facilities.  The Ombudsman provides a way for people to voice their concerns and have their complaints addressed.  The Ombudsman works with all parties to resolve a problem.

The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is mandated through the Older Americans Act and funded by the Administration of Community Living.  https://www.acl.gov/programs/protecting-rights-and-preventing-abuse/long-term-care-ombudsman-program.  In North Carolina, the Ombudsman Program consists of an Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman and 16 Offices of the Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman that are housed in Area Agencies on Aging. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/adult-services/long-term-care-ombudsman

Click here for more information on Ombudsmen and what they do for residents of Long Term care facilities and the community.

Volunteer Ombudsman

Who is a Volunteer Ombudsman?
In North Carolina, volunteer Ombudsmen are members of a county Nursing Home and/or Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee (CAC).  All committee members are appointed by County Commissioners and must reside within the county in which they serve.

Nursing Home CACs are required to visit all nursing homes every three months.  They serve as a supportive local committee, which helps to maintain the spirit of the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. Adult Care Home CACs are required to visit Adult Care Homes every three months and Family Care Homes annually.  This committee helps to maintain the Adult Care Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. All CAC's keep County Commissioners informed of conditions and issues facing residents in Long Term care facilities.  The CACs are legislatively mandated to:

  • Advocate for residents for Long Term care facilities.
  • Visit facilities to insure that the Residents’ Bill of Rights is being followed.
  • Work on the local level to resolve complaints.

All CAC visitation reports are available to view here.

Click on the links below to obtain a CAC volunteer application.
Buncombe County Nursing Home or Adult Care Home CAC
Henderson County Nursing Home / Adult Care Home CAC
Madison County Nursing Home / Adult Care Home CAC
Transylvania County Nursing Home / Adult Care Home CAC - The Transylvania County CAC meetings are held on the 2nd Monday of each quarter at 9:30 a.m. at The Children’s Center on Johnson Avenue in Brevard. The months are April, July, October, January. The public is welcome to attend.

CAC Essential Guide - This document is designed to serve as The Essential Guide to the selection, appointment and requirements for North Carolina's Long Term Care Community Advisory Committees (CACs) and explains their relationship with the NC Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Residents’ Bill of Rights

What is the Residents’ Bill of Rights?
Resident Rights are codified in both federal and state statute with the intent of protecting and promoting each resident’s civil, religious, and human rights while they reside in a licensed facility.  It is important for everyone: resident, family, friend, staff, Ombudsman, volunteer Ombudsman, or citizen to understand these rights to assure that all work together toward the same goals: excellent quality of care and life for each individual who lives in a Long Term care facility.

North Carolina’s Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Residents
North Carolina’s Bill of Rights for Adult Care Home Residents

Discharge Planning: Tips for Evaluating a Hospital's Skilled Nursing Facility Placement Choices

Better Staffing Focus

Elder Abuse Prevention

How is the Ombudsman Program involved with Elder Abuse Prevention?
North Carolina’s Ombudsman Program receives funding for Elder Abuse Prevention.  These funds are used to:

  • Provide public education and outreach services to identify and prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of older individuals.
  • Provide for receipt of reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and the referral of complaints of older individuals to law enforcement agencies, public protective services agencies, licensing and certification agencies, ombudsman programs or other protection and advocacy systems as appropriate.

We encourage you to visit the National Institute on Aging’s Elder Abuse AgePage. The page offers information and tips regarding elder abuse. For example:

  • Be attentive. Trouble sleeping, agitation, withdrawal, and unexplained bruises or burns may be signs of abuse.
  • Get details. If you suspect abuse or mistreatment, talk with the older person and try to learn what’s going on.
  • Find help. Contact Adult Protective Services —or call 911 or local police right away if an older person is in urgent danger.

Contact your local Department of Social Services for more information about Adult Protective Services or if you believe a disabled adult needs help.

County Daytime M - F After Hours
Buncombe 828.250.5800 828.250.5800
Henderson 828.697.5500 828.697.4911
Madison 828.649.9498 828.649.2721
Transylvania 828.884.3174 828.884.3188

Long Term Care Housing Directory

What is the Long Term Care Housing Directory?
Land of Sky Regional Council’s Ombudsman Program staff develops the Long Term Care Housing Directory for Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania Counties.  It is designed to help older and disabled people and their families navigate to find affordable Long Term care.  It provides up-to-date information on residential settings that are available in our community.  The directory includes:

  • Nursing Homes
  • Adult Care Homes
  • Family Care Homes
  • Multiunit Assisted Housing with Services
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
  • Independent Living (Rental) Communities for Seniors and Disabled

Admission Agreements:
Carefully Read Any Admission Agreements before Signing
If a facility requires an Arbitration Agreement to be signed as a condition of admission, the ombudsman program recommends contacting an attorney before signing or calling and discussing with one of the ombudsmen.

Long Term Care Housing Directory
Complete Directory
Buncombe County Directory
Henderson County Directory
Madison County Directory
Transylvania County Directory

For the most up-to-date contact information for long term care facilities, go to the NC Division of Health Service Regulation.

Care-Full Consideration: Mapping WNC’s Long Term Care Options - Mountain Xpress, February 9, 2018

Housing Resources

Facility Inspection Reports

Below are links to facility inspection reports. Please review the following before going to the links:

  1. The reports may not be up to date. For example a facility may have had a survey this month, but the results may not appear on the website for 2 or 3 months. You can call the facility and ask for the most recent report or visit the facility which is an optimal way to evaluate whether there would be a good match between the person who will be admitted and the facility.
  2. Nursing home surveys (inspections) occur between and 9 and 15 months or sooner if there is a complaint which means there could be a gap of over a year since the last inspection. This applies to nursing homes that are Medicare/Medicaid certified.
  3. Some nursing homes are state-licensed, but not Medicare/Medicaid certified. If these licensed-only homes have had a state fine imposed in the last 36 months it will be posted here. You can also type the name of a facility followed by ncdhhs surveys into a search engine to get the survey history.
  4. Adult Care Homes (also referred to as Assisted Living Facilities) and Family Care Homes are reviewed by an Adult Care Home Specialist, Department of Social Services, at least quarterly; many go more frequently. Yearly inspections are done by the Department of Health Service Regulation (DHSR).
  5. If you have any questions about a facility you can also contact the Ombudsman office at 828-251-6622.

Nursing Homes: To compare nursing home performance, go to this link and put in at least two nursing homes.

Adult Care Homes: To get information about adult care homes or family care homes go to this link.

Just Press Play Project

Cathy Herbert Teaching34 people attended the April 20, 2017, workshop for Just Press Play.  The program’s reputation is growing as we hosted more attendees than any previous workshops and they represented long term care staff and volunteers from Madison, Buncombe, Henderson,  McDowell, Clay, Haywood, and Jackson counties.  A professor from Western Carolina University attended with plans to involve students in this project. Cathy Hebert, RN, MSN, GCNS-BC, shared her knowledge based on implementation at the VA. Julia Gibson and Ruth Price, Ombudsmen, presented case studies, research, and administrative strategies.  New this workshop we offered an iTunes Demo to assure participants felt comfortable with the technology which is key to implementation. 

Quotes from Residents or Staff in our Region regarding the results of using individualized music:
“One man who was physically aggressive no longer has these behaviors.” 
“One woman who did not communicate well, can communicate when she is listening to her music.”

Music as medicine at local long-term care facilities - Mountain Xpress - November 10, 2016

Cathy Hebert, RN, MSN, GCNS-BC, Educator, and Supporter of Just Press Play published the following about her experiences with individualized music.  Hebert, C., Hancock, K, & McConnell, E. (2018). Implementation of individualized music in long-term care: Application of the PARiHS frameworkJournal of Gerontological Nursing, 44(8), 29-38. 

Just Press PlayThe Just Press Play Coalition at Land of Sky is working to establish individualized music in every Long Term care facility in our area. Not only does personalized music increase a person’s awareness, it reduces the use of potentially damaging medications such as anti-psychotics and the aggressive behaviors that can lead to the use of these medications.

Since the showing of the documentary film Alive Inside in November 2014 in Asheville Just Press Play has raised $5800, received countless donations of iPods, CDs, headphones and more, provided 9 Grants to facilities in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties totaling $920 cash, $1125 in iTunes gift cards, and 45 new and used MP3 players. Donations continue to arrive including cash donations, iPods, iPhones, and CDs that will be used to get residents in Long Term care connected to their favorite music. We have already given Just Press Play grants to three nursing homes who are implementing personalized music. Here’s how you can help:

  • Donating and/or collecting gently used iPods, iPhones, over-ear headphones (Sony preferred), and original CDs. You can drop them off or mail them to Land of Sky, 339 New Leicester Highway, Suite 140, Asheville, NC 28806.
  • Making, delivering, and/or checking donation boxes in the region.
  • Spending time with a resident and compiling a personalized playlist.
  • Identifying corporate sponsors in your community to bring a Just Press Play program to a facility.
  • Making a financial contribution. The average cost of start- up for an individual is around $100 for the music, iPod and headphones. Make a tax deductible contribution payable to Land of Sky Regional Council and write in the memo line Just Press Play.

Alive Inside Film - Henry's Story


Just Press Play Donations And/Or Support Have Been Contributed by Individuals, Organizations and Businesses including:

  • Jay and Penelope Silverman in memory of Jack Benning
  • Margie Latta in memory of her son Jeff Latta

Green Mountain Maple Travel Light logo
2015, 2016 & 2017

Resources for Long Term Care Facilities


The Ombudsman also provides information and education regarding Long Term care to members of the community.

What does the Ombudsman Program do for residents of Long Term care facilities and the community? All Ombudsman Program services are confidential and free.

  • Receives, investigates, and seeks to resolve concerns and complaints on their behalf.
  • Ensures understanding and implementation of the Resident’s Bill of Rights.
  • Encourages self-resolution.
  • Provides information and referral regarding Long Term care programs and services.
  • Identifies and seeks to remedy gaps in facility, government, or community services.
  • Advocate for improvements in relevant legislation, policy, and regulations.
  • Promotes the highest quality of life and care for older consumers.
  • Educates Long term care facility staff and the public about long term care issues, resident rights and aging sensitivity.