Does the idea of nursing home residents not receiving proper care or never having any visitors, family or friends pull at your heartstrings? You can help alleviate this situation by volunteering. A free SWODA Ombudsman Volunteer Training on September 23 and 24, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Weatherford Pioneer Center located at 1000 Gartrell Place in Weatherford is scheduled.
There is a need for many ombudsman volunteers. In the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA) region, there are approximately 22 facilities and 2,029 available beds for assisted living and long-term care residents (according to SWODA and the State Ombudsman Office). In Oklahoma, a staggering 60% of Oklahoma long-term care residents have no personal visitors.
Historically, family and friends took care of each other; but what happens when families can’t be there to support aging members? They rely on the kindness of a SWODA ombudsman volunteer to visit regularly. Minnie Ruth, 22 service years as an ombudsman, makes regular visits to her assigned facility. Minnie, age 92, enjoys “the people she meets and friends she makes” along with “giving of herself to help others.” She states the residents are a “blessing to her life.”
The Ombudsman Program, funded with both state and federal funds, focuses on certified ombudsmen — both paid and volunteer — who visit nursing homes and other long-term care settings to ensure that residents are receiving safe and proper care.
The Ombudsman Program offers free and confidential services to all residents. Ombudsman supervisors and volunteers listen to concerns residents may experience with staff, family or other agencies associated with their care in the facility. They do informal problem solving and support residents and families in solving their own problems. An ombudsman helps to improve the quality of life and the quality of care available to residents.
Ombudsmen visit with residents living in long-term care facility informing them of their rights. They take seriously every concern expressed by residents or families. From cold food, unanswered call bells, short staffing to outright neglect and abuse are examples of concerns that affect qualify of life and care of the resident. Ombudsmen volunteers help ensure everyone is treated with dignity and given the highest quality of care possible.
Bill Waldrop, SWODA ombudsman volunteer of 20 years, states residents “sharing life stories is most delightful.” Bill volunteers to give back and “pay it forward.” He experiences a deep sense of gratitude and connection to the residents he visits weekly.
Another SWODA ombudsman volunteer of 15 years, Barbara Davis, enjoys the “smiles gleaned from visiting residents.” During each visit, Barbara tries to bring comfort to as many residents that need her. She receives many rewards in “making a difference in the lives of residents.” Barbara wants others to volunteer to experience the joy and connection of making a difference.
Louise Kenedy, the newest member of the SWODA ombudsman volunteers with six years of service, visits to see “sparkles in the eyes of residents.” She enjoys listening to the family histories. The tragedies and triumphs of dust bowl days, depression, wars and even changes in technology. She learns something new each visit.
Join others experiencing the value of being an Ombudsman volunteer. If you are interested, contact Gail Wilcox, ombudsman supervisor, SWODA Area Agency on Aging at 800-562-4882, ext. 132. The SWODA region includes the eight counties of Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Washita.
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