Two CLM Students Lobby for Long-term Care Ombudsman Funding

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Last week, two students in the Clinical Leadership and Management program traveled to Frankfort for Kentucky Non-Profit Day at the Capitol to lobby for long-term care ombudsman funding for state districts, as well as for the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass.

For four months, seniors Caroline Prewitt and Kinsey Gilbert were assigned a practicum through the CLM program with the Ombudsman Agency.

“We had no idea we would be together,” said Prewitt, a Lexington native.  

Nor did they know they would be assigned to the Ombudsman Agency. An ombudsman is an advocate for residents in nursing homes, personal care homes and family care homes, Prewitt said. Among other things, they can make sure patients are: Being woken up at the correct times, getting warm meals, and receiving medication appropriately. They can even make sure patients aren’t being abused.

“Ombudsmen do not work for the nursing home but work for the resident,” Prewitt explained. “Everything they do is free of charge.”

Unfortunately, with the recent increase in the number of assisted living facilities, ombudsmen across the state have become understaffed. “So, we’re advocating for more full-time positions to help cover the increase in facilities,” Prewitt said.

Both she and Gilbert are now newly certified as ombudsmen.  

“For their practicum with the long-term care ombudsmen agency, they have gathered data and created portfolios for each of the districts in Kentucky,” said Karen Clancy, PhD, MBA, BHS, MT and assistant professor in Clinical Leadership and Management. “Their portfolios will be used to advocate for more funding.”

“We created infographics to take to state representatives, and just create awareness for the program,” Prewitt said.

During their day in Frankfort, which was made possible, in part, by Denise Wells, Executive Director of the Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, the students were able to talk with Kentucky State Representative Steve Bratcher (R-Elizabethtown and a member of the Health Services Committee) about funding for the Ombudsman Agency. The students were also able to show him statistics relating to the need for his own constituents.

“It’s truly amazing to see how our hard work goes into play in the real world,” Prewitt said. “Attending the non-profit day was an opportunity that I learned so much from, as I aspire to obtain a career in health policy. I know all I have learned in the past four months at the Ombudsman will be a vital asset to my future as I continue my healthcare career path in the fall following graduation.”

“I was very appreciative of the opportunity to go to the Capitol during this year’s legislative session as I am also looking for a career in health policy,” said Gilbert, an Orlando, Fla., native. “Being able to see firsthand how bills work their way through the house and senate was an eye-opening experience, and it has only added to my passion for advocacy. I’m excited to take what I learned from the practicum at the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency and apply it to my master’s program in the fall.”

Both Gilbert and Prewitt will be graduating in the spring.