Beverley Laubert, MA, credits her Great Aunt Hazel with her entry into the long-term care (LTC) field.
“I have a degree in gerontology, and that was prompted by caring for an elderly aunt in our home when I was in high school,” she says.
After graduation, Laubert worked as a social worker in home health and nursing home environments before accepting a position with the ombudsman program at the Ohio Department of Aging (DOA), where she had completed a practicum during college. She’s now been with the department for almost three decades, 20 of them as the state’s long-term care ombudsman, a position overseeing 80 staff members, 12 regional programs and about 300 volunteers, all advocating on behalf of seniors.
“There’s just so much in their daily lives that people just sort of accept as the best that they can get, and a big part of our ombudsman work is helping people to elevate their expectations,” she says.
Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., director of the Ohio DOA, believes that Laubert and her colleagues are succeeding. “Beverley Laubert works tirelessly on behalf of Ohio’s long-term care consumers and is recognized nationally as an innovator and leader,” she says.
Evidence of innovation
Laubert’s descriptions of programs and services back up Burman’s claim. For instance, the state conducts surveys of nursing home and assisted living residents every other year, querying family members in “off” years, and publishes the results online for consumers.
And the state is one of 13 in which the LTC ombudsman plays a role in home and community-based services—and Ohio, unlike some of the others, provides funding to enable that work. “Ohio has been very good to the ombudsman program, recognizing the need for consumers to have an advocate wherever they may live, and has supported us very well to be able to provide that service,” she says.
Also, through July Ohio is launching a demonstration project, which Laubert’s office helped design, to provide managed care for those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.
And the ombudsman program finds creative ways to use the civil monetary penalties collected in the federally required resident protection fund accumulated from nursing home deficiencies. One project provided training to increase the number of volunteers available throughout the state, and another developed resident and family councils in nursing homes. Yet another concentrated on preventing involuntary discharges from nursing homes, and another implemented a music program in conjunction with memory care. Most recently, the projects have focused on person-centered care and culture change, educating nursing homes on how to use the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Artifacts of Culture Change tool to assess the care they are providing.
“As an ombudsman and an advocate, we’re best known for hearing complaints from people and investigating those and working with facilities and home care agencies to resolve problems,” Laubert says. “So it’s really nice to be able to say, ‘Let’s look at the root cause of issues and start from the beginning so we can make sure that people are receiving the care that they need and facilities are equipped to provide person-centered care to prevent some of those problems.’ ”
The national stage
During the four years she spent as president of the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, she also became involved with the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Collaborative, a national not-for-profit organization that is leading the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes quality initiative. She is 2014–2015 board chair, the first non-physician to serve in the role.
“The Advancing Excellence campaign really brings people together with a common goal of quality,” she says, adding that state policy has helped Ohio be a leader in data collection and campaign involvement. “We developed a quality incentive system from the Medicaid reimbursement system—sort of a pay-for-performance part of Medicaid—and one of those measures is involvement in the Advancing Excellence campaign. So nursing homes can get a point for it, and they’re doing a great job of getting data entered and being real participants in the campaign.”
And just as family led Laubert to pursue a career in long-term care all those years ago, family members also help her continue to be successful, she says, acknowledging her husband, Michael, who is an attorney at the Ohio DOA, and two high school-aged children, Jeff and Libby.
“This role I have isn’t just a job to me but a way of life,” Laubert says. “My husband and children are supportive and see how important it is to be an advocate.”
Be sure to watch Long-Term Living's website this week for profiles of all four 2014 Leaders of Tomorrow.