There are currently more than 170 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the region served by the Dayton office of the Long-term Care Ombudsman. This office could not possibly serve the needs of these citizens without help from its volunteers, and they are seeking volunteer advocates in Clark, Greene, Miami, and Montgomery counties due to the large number of long-term care facilities in those counties.
According to Lawrence Wilkins, Director of the nine-county Long-Term Care Program, “we could honestly keep another 50 volunteers as busy as their schedules and free time would allow.” The need is great and the rewards can be life-changing. One volunteer who helped to ensure that the staff at a nursing home took the necessary time to feed a resident her meals each day stated that she “never experienced more joy than when the resident gained 10 pounds and was strong enough to start physical therapy.”
Volunteers complete 10 hours of training and take a test to become certified by the Ohio Department of Aging. The Volunteer Coordinator then introduces them to nearby facilities for guided tours and the opportunity to speak with staff. Once matched to a facility, the volunteer visits the site for approximately four hours per month on their own schedule to visit residents, listen to their concerns and problems, and report to the Ombudsman Office staff for guidance on responding to resident needs. A minimal amount of online reporting is completed after site visits.
The secret to the success of the Volunteer Ombudsman Program is each volunteer’s ability to build relationships with residents. Regular visits help the volunteers to establish bonds and trust with residents, learn more about the facility’s operations and the staff, and consequently become more knowledgeable and able to provide meaningful advocacy for quality care and residents’ rights. A successful Volunteer Ombudsman has compassion and respect for seniors, common sense, enjoys conversation, is a good listener, and has a ready smile. Volunteer Ombudsmen typically remain with the program for many years because the service they provide is meaningful both for the facility residents and the volunteer.
To learn more about becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman, contact the local office at (937) 223-4613, or (800) 395-8267. Full information is also available on their website.