By Boomerang staff and staff of the state Office of the Long-term Care Ombudsman
Jim Shultz, of Logan, Ohio, has gotten a very large family since volunteering as an ombudsman associate. "[It's] like enlarging your family of friends and loved ones by 1000 percent," he said. Jim is a familiar face at Logan Health Care, a 144-bed facility where he visits more than 20 residents a week. In fact, since January 2009, Jim has given over 420 hours of his time to his "family" at Logan Health Care.
Jim started his work as an ombudsman associate at Pine Hills Continuing Care in nearby Nelsonville. He was familiar with many who lived there and kept a watchful eye as the facility closed and those who lived there had to move to new homes. Then, he asked to become the associate volunteer at Logan Health Care so he could continue his work with many of the consumers who had to move from Pine Hills.
"The success of an Ombudsman is not acknowledged by the reports they compile but by the smiles and warm greetings received by the individuals they serve," Jim said. He is driven by a desire to make sure the residents have someone there ensuring that their quality of life iss not only maintained, but enhanced wherever and whenever possible.
Ohio's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program addresses concerns about the quality of long-term care services and works with providers and consumers to find solutions when problems arise. Ombudsman staff works with consumers to ensure services are being provided appropriately and with respect for the consumer's rights. Ombudsman associates are volunteers who often are the first contact most consumers and families have with the program.
Ombudsman associates receive 14 hours of free training and are certified to perform certain duties. They make regular visits to their assigned nursing homes, observe daily life there and engage residents in conversation. They promote person-centered care and provide consumers with information about the ombudsman program and resident rights. They ask about problems or concerns residents may have, and assist with uncomplicated complaints. Most of all, they are a voice for those who are unable to make their voices heard.
"To be a successful ombudsman you not only earn the respect of your residents but the facility management as well," Jim said of his role as an advocate.
In 2010, ombudsman associates like Jim contributed 17,530 hours of service, made nearly 8,600 visits to facilities and spent more than 1,400 hours assisting with complex complaints. Associates also have access to continuing education opportunities throughout the year.
Jim sums up his experience of being an ombudsman in a simple mnemonic:
Nursing home residents
To learn more and to apply to become an ombudsman associate, visit the Ohio Department of Aging website or call the Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-282-1206.
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