(1) The purpose of the Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman shall be to:
(a) Identify, investigate, and resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities relating to actions or omissions by providers or representatives of providers of long-term care services, other public or private agencies, guardians, or representative payees that may adversely affect the health, safety, welfare, or rights of the residents.
(b) Provide services that assist in protecting the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents.
(c) Inform residents, their representatives, and other citizens about obtaining the services of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and its representatives.
(d) Ensure that residents have regular and timely access to the services provided through the office and that residents and complainants receive timely responses from representatives of the office to their complaints.
(e) Represent the interests of residents before governmental agencies and seek administrative, legal, and other remedies to protect the health, safety, welfare, and rights of the residents.
(f) Administer the state and local councils.
(g) Analyze, comment on, and monitor the development and implementation of federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations, and other governmental policies and actions, that pertain to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of the residents, with respect to the adequacy of long-term care facilities and services in the state, and recommend any changes in such laws, rules, regulations, policies, and actions as the office determines to be appropriate and necessary.
(h) Provide technical support for the development of resident and family councils to protect the well-being and rights of residents.
(2) The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman shall have the duty and authority to:
(a) Establish and coordinate local councils throughout the state.
(b) Perform the duties specified in state and federal law, rules, and regulations.
(c) Within the limits of appropriated federal and state funding, employ such personnel as are necessary to perform adequately the functions of the office and provide or contract for legal services to assist the state and local councils in the performance of their duties. Staff positions established for the purpose of coordinating the activities of each local council and assisting its members may be filled by the ombudsman after approval by the secretary. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, upon certification by the ombudsman that the staff member hired to fill any such position has completed the initial training required under s. 400.0091, such person shall be considered a representative of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program for purposes of this part.
(d) Contract for services necessary to carry out the activities of the office.
(e) Apply for, receive, and accept grants, gifts, or other payments, including, but not limited to, real property, personal property, and services from a governmental entity or other public or private entity or person, and make arrangements for the use of such grants, gifts, or payments.
(f) Coordinate, to the greatest extent possible, state and local ombudsman services with the protection and advocacy systems for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses and with legal assistance programs for the poor through adoption of memoranda of understanding and other means.
(g) Enter into a cooperative agreement with the Statewide Advocacy Council for the purpose of coordinating and avoiding duplication of advocacy services provided to residents.
(h) Enter into a cooperative agreement with the Medicaid Fraud Division as prescribed under s. 731(e)(2)(B) of the Older Americans Act.
(i) Prepare an annual report describing the activities carried out by the office, the state council, and the local councils in the year for which the report is prepared. The ombudsman shall submit the report to the secretary at least 30 days before the convening of the regular session of the Legislature. The secretary shall in turn submit the report to the United States Assistant Secretary for Aging, the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Secretary of Children and Family Services, and the Secretary of Health Care Administration. The report shall, at a minimum:
1. Contain and analyze data collected concerning complaints about and conditions in long-term care facilities and the disposition of such complaints.
2. Evaluate the problems experienced by residents.
3. Analyze the successes of the ombudsman program during the preceding year, including an assessment of how successfully the program has carried out its responsibilities under the Older Americans Act.
4. Provide recommendations for policy, regulatory, and statutory changes designed to solve identified problems; resolve residents’ complaints; improve residents’ lives and quality of care; protect residents’ rights, health, safety, and welfare; and remove any barriers to the optimal operation of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
5. Contain recommendations from the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Council regarding program functions and activities and recommendations for policy, regulatory, and statutory changes designed to protect residents’ rights, health, safety, and welfare.
6. Contain any relevant recommendations from the local councils regarding program functions and activities.