One of 10 residents at nursing homes has no family, Randall said, so an ombudsman becomes an important connection for them.
“So we make sure we spend extra time with them,” he said. “I mean, it’s just sad.”
Randall said he goes to the nursing homes twice a week for three or four hours each day.
He listens to residents and investigates issues they bring up. Among them might be quality of care, response by staff to meet needs or perhaps quality of food.
“We represent the residents, so we work as a mediator,” he said.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
Gehrig said many of the residents are not aware they can request food, games or amenities that can improve their lives.
“Of course, they can,” she said. “It’s their home. We want to make things pleasant for them.”
Randall said they try to make sure the residents have the best quality of life possible.
A volunteer since fall 2008, he has found the work extremely rewarding.
“Residents get very attached to their ombudsman.”
There are about 10 ombudsmen volunteering in total, and the Center for Independence will hold a training program for new volunteers May 6 through 10.
Gehrig said the center is looking for people who are willing to commit themselves to help for a few hours each week and give back to their community.
Many residents at nursing homes do not know that they have ombudsmen to speak for them and make sure their needs are fulfilled and their rights respected, she noted.
There are posters about ombudsmen in the facilities, she said, and they can also ask the staff how to contact the program.
“This is an extremely important job,” she said. “We need to let the residents feel that they are important because they are.
“And you don’t realize how much a smile can touch someone.”