Volunteer Ombudsman needed

MASON CITY, Iowa – One new Iowa program is looking for volunteers to empower residents in long-term care facilities by giving them a voice to be heard.

“Oh I think it’s very important,” says long-term resident Merlin Scholl.

He is happy to have someone around who listens to his wants and needs in his long-term care facility. Those careful listeners are volunteer ombudsmen.

Volunteers go through an eight-hour training program, they’re in the facility about 3 to 5 hours per month,” says Good Shepherd Administrator, Ian Stockberger.

During those hours, they lend an ear as residents talk about their current living conditions.

“They’re basically eyes and ears for the residence, and they’re designed to help residents, advocate for them and help them resolve any issues with long-term care,” says Stockberger.

And it clears up some questions residents may have.

“Who do I ask? Who is going to handle this? I don’t know, so if there’s one person who was designated, that’s fantastic,” says Good Shepherd Activity Director, Sinva Opheim.

The goal is to have one of these volunteers assigned to each long-term care facility. To achieve that, more help is needed.

“I definitely would like to see volunteers come in. I think it’s an important aspect of it, and just kind of rounds out that unbiased opinion. Gives the eyes and ears of residents that may not have family or somebody who advocates for them on a regular basis,” says Stockberger.

It means a lot to staff members too like Sinva Opheim, because they grow very close to their residents and want them happy.

“A lot of my residents, you know become part of their family,” says Opheim.

So having these volunteers makes her life and the life of residents a little easier.

“It’s kind of like, I know it will be handled, I know it will be addressed,” says Opheim.

Administrators tell us this program is good for them and the future of these organizations as well.

If you want to help the cause and become an advocate for residents call: 866-236-1430. Or you can visit www.iowaaging.gov/vop.  

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