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Local program needs volunteers to serve as long-term care Ombudsmen

Advocates empower residents in nursing homes

LUFKIN, TEXAS – The Deep East Area Agency on Aging Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is seeking volunteers in Nacogdoches, Shelby, San Augustine, and Sabine counties to advocate for residents living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


Volunteer ombudsmen visit residents, identify and investigate complaints, and educate residents, families, and facility staff on protecting the health, safety, welfare, and rights of individuals living in long-term care settings. Ombudsman services are free and confidential.


Volunteers must be at least 18-years old and complete a free, 36-hour training course that includes virtual, classroom, self-study and in-facility training. No prior experience is required. Hours are flexible and determined by each volunteer.


If you have one hour per week to make a difference in someone’s life, please contact Tonya Jackson-Simpson

at (936) 634-2247 extension 5326 or to register for the course.

What is an Ombudsman?

An Advocate Program For Nursing Facility and Assisted Living Residents. The Ombudsman program provides advocacy to residents of long-term care facilities based on laws, regulations and procedures. Services include:

  • Resident Rights Information

  • Volunteer Opportunities

  • Complaint Resolution

  • Assures Quality of Life

  • Monitors Development and Implementation of Laws, Regulations and Policies affecting Long-Term Care Facilities

HHSC Publishes Revised Rules for Nursing Facility Visitation

CMS recently revised nursing facility visitation guidelines providing additional flexibility in light of COVID-19 vaccination availability.

HHSC has also recently revised nursing facility visitation rules providing additional flexibility, which are in alignment with CMS guidelines. Texas nursing facilities can now permit:

  • up to 2 essential caregivers at the same time to visit a resident with any COVID-19 status in all nursing facilities.

    • previously only one essential caregiver at a time could visit a resident.

    • previously essential caregiver visits were not permitted for a COVID-19 positive resident.

  • end-of-life visits for all residents who are at the end-of-life with any COVID-19 status in all nursing facilities, with more flexibility for end-of-life visits as the expanded definition of end-of-life now includes all residents:

    • receiving hospice services.

    • at or near the end of life, with or without receiving hospice services.

    • whose prognosis does not indicate recovery.

  • outdoor visitation at all facilities even when the facility has an outbreak.

    • previously outdoor general visitation was not permitted for a facility with an outbreak.

  • all visitation without time limits, while adhering to infection prevention and control measures.

  • close/personal contact during any visitation for vaccinated residents.

    • previously close/personal contact was limited to essential caregiver and end-of-life visits.

Nursing facilities no longer need to:

  • request visitation approval from HHSC.

  • monitor visits or escort visitors to and from the visitation area.

  • limit indoor visitation to areas with a plexiglass barrier or booth.

  • require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result for essential caregiver or salon services visitors.

Read HHSC’s revised visitation rules.



HHSC Publishes Revised Nursing Facility Visitation Guidance (PL 2021-08)

HHSC Long-term Care Regulation has published Provider Letter 2021-08 (replaces PL 20-44) COVID-19 Response - Expansion of Reopening Visitation (PDF).

The letter clarifies COVID-19 visitation flexibilities permitted by newly revised nursing facility rules.

Nursing Visits
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