Special to the Booster
LUFKIN – For many nursing home residents, someone to talk to is all they need. An ombudsman, a member of a group of volunteer resident advocates who work with nursing home residents, can be that someone.
Ombudsmen work with 34 nursing facilities throughout the Deep East Texas Region and 13 assisted living facilities. Each volunteer is paired with a facility and visits that facility two hours every week.
Training to become a volunteer ombudsman is provided free of charge by the Area Agency on Aging. Volunteers are mentored on how to speak with residents and handle complaints working at their own pace.
The heart of the program is patient advocacy. Ombudsmen work closely with residents, their families, and the facility to address concerns and problems and advocate for resident’s rights. It is about getting problems resolved before the State gets involved.
For example, if a resident is complaining about not getting enough water, the ombudsman would discuss this with the administrative staff to correct any substantiated issue. Any issues that cannot be resolved at the local level goes to the state level, those circumstances are rare. Ombudsmen in the Deep East Texas Region resolved 96 percent of complaints received last year. The job of an ombudsman is to make sure the quality of care received is up to standard and every resident has someone who is on their side, and someone who will listen to them and understand where they are coming from.
Are you concerned about the needs of older people? Can you work with all types of people? Do you like to follow problems through to resolution? Be a Volunteer Ombudsman. Learn to advocate for people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities or do you need assistance in solving a problem in a nursing home, contact Tonya Jackson-Simpson, Managing Local Ombudsman with the Deep East Texas Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-256-6848 ex 5326 or 409/384-5704 ex 5326.