Ombudsman Program, Serving Southwest Oklahoma Since 1976

posted Feb 1, 2013, 12:07 PM by Latia Murray

The Ombudsman Program has been working to improve the lives of nursing home residents in southwest Oklahoma since 1976.

The program consists of an ombudsman supervisor and 12 community volunteers who serve approximately 1,320 residents in their area. They work with nursing home facilities and residents, along with family and friends, to make sure the needs of nursing home residents are being met.

Needs of residents include everyday necessities such as nutritional needs, cleanliness, appropriate clothing and having someone to talk with.  Needs also include the need to have the same, basic rights as before entering the nursing facility, including the freedom from abuse, neglect and misappropriation of funds.

The Ombudsman program provides a missing link for many residents in nursing homes and residential care facilities. Program volunteers go to these facilities weekly to visit with the residents and get to know them. If residents have needs, are experiencing difficulty or have any problems, the volunteers are able to advocate on their behalf.

“Only 30 to 35 percent of nursing home residents receive visitors on a regular basis,” said Samantha Walker, Ombudsman Supervisor. “There’s a big need there, and we get to help fill the gap.”

The Ombudsman Program not only benefits the nursing home residents, but also the volunteers who visit them. “I enjoy doing something for someone else,” said Minnie Ruth Ballew, and Ombudsman volunteer. “I would encourage others to volunteer also. It is very rewarding and has greatly enriched my life.”

The Ombudsman program is a program offered through the South Western Oklahoma Development Authority (SWODA) Area Agency on Aging and serves Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Washita counties. For more information about the program, contact Samantha Walker, Ombudsman Supervisor, at 580-562-4882.