Long-Term Care Ombudsman - Advocate for Residents

Long-Term Care ombudsmen are advocates for resident rights. They help protect the quality of life and quality of care of anybody who lives in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Ombudsmen are independent of any long-term care facility. Services are free, confidential and at the resident’s direction.

Advocate

Identify, investigate and resolve complaints by or on behalf of nursing home and assisted living facility residents. Complaints can range from not having hot coffee to concerns about care and to dignity and respect.

"They are so appreciative of any problem you help them with," said certified volunteer ombudsman Paul Miller. "They think you are a hero when it was something small like finding the right staff to take care of the problem."

Empower and Educate

Provide information to residents and their families about resident rights, nursing home compliance, how to select a nursing home, and and eligibility criteria.

"If I can bring a smile to the face of a depressed resident, or hope to a person whose health issues are overwhelming, it is all worthwhile," said certified volunteer ombudsman Ben Duggar.

Visit

More than 60% of nursing home residents do not have any visitors besides their ombudsman. Volunteer ombudsmen are asked to visit at least twice a month so residents can learn who they are and establish trust as an advocate.

"There are not a lot of programs to help seniors." said certified volunteer ombudsman Verna Gilbert. "One of the most rewarding things you can do is just visit with them. Their stories are history."

Commit

To protect residents, volunteers are asked to apply. There is an interview and a background check. Volunteers are provided 36 hours of training, which includes a guided internship before becoming certified. Volunteers receive on-going continuing education and support from the Ombudsman Program staff. Volunteers are asked to commit for at least one year.

"Helping nursing home residents is one of the best things you can do," certified volunteer ombudsman of 20 years Eloy Hinojosa said.