Are you interested in expanding your nursing home volunteer responsibilities? Today let’s explore how you can serve in the Volunteer Ombudsman program.
Federal law requires each of the 50 states to provide an ombudsman office to advocate for long term care residents. They provide specially trained staff to address complaints and help resolve problems. Services are provided free of charge. While the staff includes paid employees, volunteers are also recruited to serve long term care residents.
What are the qualifications of a volunteer ombudsman?
- No medical or legal experience is required.
- You must be at least 18 years old (21 in some locations).
- You’ll be asked to undergo a criminal background check.
- The application process involves an interview and reference checks.
What training is required?
- Training varies by state, but generally involves about 12 hours of classroom study as well as onsite training.
- Ongoing continuing education is required each year to maintain certification.
What is the time commitment?
- While this varies by state, it usually involves about 12-16 hours of service per month.
- You may be required to attend regular meetings with other volunteers and your supervisor.
- Nursing home visits are flexible according to what works best for your schedule.
- You may be asked to make a commitment to serve for a minimum period of time, usually 6-12 months.
What will I do as a volunteer ombudsman?
- Make regular, unannounced visits to your assigned nursing home.
- Visit with residents and listen to their concerns.
- Help residents and their families communicate complaints to the nursing home administration.
- Make the nursing home administration aware of concerns you observe during your visits.
- Work to resolve resident complaints. Examples of concerns include food quality, incompatible roommates, and billing issues.
- Refer more serious complaints to the Regional Ombudsman for follow-up.
- Educate residents on their Bill of Rights.
- Act as a resource for the nursing home in brainstorming solutions to resident concerns.
Interested in becoming a volunteer ombudsman? Check this site for information about opportunities in your state.
Here’s a bit of interesting trivia: The concept of an ombudsman originated in Sweden in the early 1800’s. The word comes from a translation of a Swedish word meaning “representative”.