- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 02 August 2018
Learn to advocate for residents of local long-term care facilities
Want to volunteer to make a difference in your community? The next Long-Term Care Ombudsman training is your chance! Volunteers in Greenfield, Shelburne Falls, Athol, and Turners Falls are especially needed.
Attend the next free volunteer training for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program on October 3 and 4, 2018, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and October 5, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with breaks for lunch, in Holyoke, Mass.
With questions or to apply, call Trevor Boeding, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program director at LifePath, at 413-773-5555 x2241 or 978-544-2259 x2241, or send him an email. Even if you can’t make it to this training, you can still reach out to be added to the list for a future session.
What is it like to be a volunteer Ombudsman?
Robert Amyot has visited with and advocated for residents living at Quabbin Valley Healthcare as a volunteer Ombudsman with LifePath for over five years. “I’ve always seemed to relate well talking to people who are my age or older,” says Robert.
“The skills helpful to be an Ombudsman are good people skills, good listening skills, level-headedness, and comfort in helping to advocate for another's needs to be met,” says Trevor. “It is not necessary to have healthcare knowledge or experience. Training is provided to fill in the gaps.”
This summer, Robert received an award for his work to improve the quality of life for those living in the North Quabbin region through LifePath’s Ombudsman program.
When he first started volunteering all those years ago, Robert found he was nervous. “Especially when you start out, you really need a lot of guidance.”
The structure of the ongoing training put his mind at ease. Robert and Trevor did introductory visits together. “I always keep his phone number handy,” says Robert. “I can call from my car if I need to have an answer right away.”
Regular meetings with other Ombudsman volunteers have also helped him along the way. “We can hear what a variety of other situations are occurring,” says Robert, which helps with similar situations that may arise in the future.
Such situations have included:
- helping a resident get the the help they need to locate missing or lost clothing or other personal items
- helping a resident to have their dietary needs met, i.e. vegetarian, creamers with coffee, etc.
- ensuring residents have access to information about their choices and options, both at the facility and in the community
- making sure their rights are respected
- helping to improve quality of life for residents by advocating for activities
Thanks to the Ombudsman, “People are so much better off and happier,” says Robert. “It gives me a lot of satisfaction to be able to advocate for them.”
Interested volunteers must successfully complete the application process, which includes CORI, reference checks, and an interview with the program director, before attending the training. Volunteers are reimbursed for their mileage to and from the facility to which they are assigned.