Thursday, March 14, 2013

Volunteering to make a Difference

What is an Ombudsman?  Ombudsman means “citizen representative” and is a very special person who is a volunteer advocate for residents of long-term care facilities.  Good Ombudsmen are compassionate through and through, are good listeners and communicators that bridge the interaction between residents of nursing/ adult homes with facility staff, and show concern about the residents’ care.  They are available to nursing/adult home residents to help those residents.  

I’d like to dedicate this article to all of the extraordinary Ombudsmen who exemplify the dedication and caring we look for in our volunteers.  In Niagara County, Ombudsmen serve 15 facilities as advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. Ombudsman is a Swedish word for “mediator”. Responsibilities of an Ombudsman include advocating for residents and their families in resolving problems or complaints, monitoring the residents’ quality of care, helping protect residents’ rights and assuring safety and fair treatment with dignity and respect.  New York State’s Long-term Care Ombudsman program is sponsored in Niagara County by The Dale Association and helps approximately 2300 residents county-wide.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting most of the volunteer Ombudsman; as volunteers, they are an extension of The Dale Association and I am honored to have such a wonderful group of people helping support The Dale’s mission in our community.  We greatly appreciate our Ombudsmen and the wonderful, caring support they provide.

Volunteers are the heart of our services at The Dale Association.  One of the most visible volunteer opportunities is that of a long-term care Ombudsman.  If you are looking for a volunteer experience where you can have a direct impact on the quality of life for people in long-term care facilities, consider becoming a Niagara County Ombudsman.  As a trained Ombudsman, you can have a positive impact on the quality of the residents’ lives, in as little as four hours a week and you’ll set your own hours. Ongoing support and assistance are provided to all volunteers.  The next training session starts April 29th  If you are at least 21 years old and interested in learning more about how to become a Niagara County Ombudsman, please contact Nancy Smith at 433-3344, ext 1.

This is a volunteer experience for compassionate people with good communication skills and a willingness to be of service to the elderly. It is both rewarding and meaningful. Funding for the Ombudsman Program is provided by New York State and the Niagara County Office for the Aging and administered by The Dale Association, Inc.

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