Ombudsman Program


The Ombudsman Program assures the dignity and self-determination of long term care consumers.


What is an “Ombudsman?"
The word Ombudsman (Om-budz-man) is Scandinavian. In North America this has come to mean “helper," advocate or “voice of the people."

A Long Term Care Ombudsman works with individuals and their families to protect and promote the rights of long term care consumers, while also working with long ​term care service providers to define and achieve the highest standards possible.​

The Ombudsman Program has offices located throughout the state. Find the Ombudsman for your county using the interactive Ombudsman Coverage Map.


Ombudsman Services
Advocates are available across the state to help long term care consumers aged 60 and older.

​What is the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program?​
Federal law requires (45 CFR 1321 and 1324) each state to have a Long Term Care Ombudsman Program headed by a State Long Term Care Ombudsman. As defined by the Older Americans Act, the mission of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is to seek resolution of problems and advocate for the rights of clients with the goal of enhancing quality of life and quality of care.

In Wisconsin, the Ombudsman Program is administered by the State of Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care, and advocacy services are provided at no cost. There is no connection with any long term care provider, and ombudsmen do not endorse or recommend any specific long term care provider or program.

Who do Ombudsmen serve?
Ombudsmen have unrestricted authority to advocate on behalf of persons age 60 and older who receive their long term care services as residents or tenants of a licensed or certified long term care setting such as:
A place where adults who are not related to the operator reside and receive care, treatment or services that are above the level of room and board and that may include up to seven hours per week of nursing care per resident. The minimum age requirement for residing in an AFH is 18 years. Learn more about Adult Family Homes (AFH) here.

A place where adults who are not related to the operator or administrator reside and receive care, treatment or services that are above the level of room and board and that may include up to three hours per week of nursing care per resident. Adults residing in a CBRF should not require care above intermediate level nursing care. Learn more about Community Based Residential Facilities (CBRF) here.
Five or more adults residing in a complex with independent apartments that have a lockable entrance and exit. The apartment must include a kitchen, living area, bedroom and private bathroom. Must provide up to 28 hours per week of supportive, personal and nursing services. Learn more about Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCAC) here.

A nursing home is a facility that provides 24-hour nursing services, including room and board to five or more unrelated persons. Usually individuals living in a nursing home require access to 24-hour nursing services due to their physical or mental condition.​ Learn more about Nursing Homes here.

​Ombudsmen also advocate for persons who receive home and community-based services through one of the state's long term care programs:

A long term care program that helps frail elders and adults with disabilities get the services they need to remain in their homes. Learn more about Family Care here.

(Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) is a self-directed program for Wisconsin’s frail elders and adults with disabilities. You have to be eligible for Medicaid to be in the IRIS program.​ Learn more about IRIS here.

Ombudsmen do not have authority to advocate on behalf of persons who are younger than 60 years of age, persons receiving services in residential or acute mental health treatment settings, persons receiving services in a hospital or persons living in independent or unlicensed settings, unless their concerns are about their managed long term care services specifically.

Who can call an Ombudsman?
​Anyone may call an Ombudsman, but the Ombudsman's only client is the long term care consumer age 60 and older. All interactions are confidential.

Ombudsmen serve statewide, are assigned by regions, and in Milwaukee County by zip code.  When requesting ombudsman services please provide the county and/or name of the long term care community where the individual resides, the zip code if the individual lives in Milwaukee County, an email address or phone number for a return call, and a brief description of the concern.