SYRACUSE – Have you ever spent time in a nursing home? Perhaps you were there for rehab or perhaps you have a loved one who lived in one. If so, you know that they can be difficult to get used to.
Nobody wants to go to a nursing home, right? Sometimes, however, it’s the only viable option.
Did you know there is a volunteer program to help nursing home residents?
It’s called the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
Ombudsmen are dedicated, certified volunteers who visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities to help advocate for residents.
They are an impartial person to talk over concerns. They can provide guidance and information during challenging times.
Volunteers learn through a 36-hour certification training. Plus, there are regular training updates so they can counsel residents and families.
Topics include: resident’s rights, care expectations, dietary concerns, advanced directives, and more. When necessary, the ombudsman are there to advocate for the residents and help resolve their concerns.
Leslie Fladd, an Ombudsman volunteer from Cortland County describes her work this way: “Working as an advocate for residents in long term care, in the role of Ombudsman, has been an amazing learning experience for me. It’s great to feel I can be instrumental in bringing even small, positive changes to some of these folks!”
Ombudsmen work to affect change at the state level, too.
One area they are actively working on is the Personal Needs Allowance for residents who receive Medicaid funding.
Since 1981, the PNA has been stuck at only $50 a month.
For many residents, the PNA is the only money they have to spend on any extra needs that are not covered by the facility.
They use it to cover things such as haircuts, clothing, certain toiletries, cell phones, gifts, etc. Without the ability to purchase some of these simple necessities, their quality of life can really suffer.
“The Ombudsman volunteer must be a dedicated and professional person who wants to truly make a difference in the lives of our elders during this most vulnerable time in their lives,” said Jeff Parker, regional coordinator. “Everyone who volunteers will tell you they get so much more out of it then they put into it. The rewards are hard to put into words.”
Here in the Syracuse area, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is facilitated by ARISE, Inc.
ARISE is an independent living center working to ensure that everyone, regardless of disability, has the power to make life choices and achieve his or her dreams.
ARISE manages the Ombudsman Program in Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, and Cayuga counties. They oversee 67 facilities with nearly 7,000 beds.
There is always a need for more Ombudsman volunteers to cover this large area.
ARISE will offer the free Ombudsman training course for interested volunteers on May 9, 10, 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day.
The training will be hosted by Parker.
People interested in learning more about this program or the training should call Parker at (315) 671-5108 or [email protected]
ARISE is a non-profit Independent living center run by and for people with disabilities.
The organization has been providing advocacy and services since 1979 and each year ARISE works with approximately 7,000 people of all ages who have all types of disabilities.
ARISE offers services in Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Cayuga and Seneca counties and also operates ARISE at the Farm, a 77-acre recreational facility in Chittenango and ARISE & Ski at Toggenburg Winter Sports Center in Fabius.