Individuals who are 18 years of age or older and have a strong appreciation for older Iowans and persons with disabilities are being sought for a unique, fulfilling volunteer opportunity in a number of communities across Iowa.
The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is currently seeking applicants for the state’s Volunteer Ombudsman Program (VOP), a program that was created by law in 2012 to assist the Office in carrying out its mission to protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of individuals residing in long-term care. With nearly 22,000 Iowans residing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities and elder group homes throughout the state, there is a strong need for dedicated, reliable volunteers to help promote and protect residents’ rights.
“The VOP has grown considerably since it first started and we are proud to have 104 trained, certified volunteers serving in 96 facilities across the state,” said State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Deanna Clingan-Fischer.
“Today, our goal is to have at least one volunteer in each of Iowa’s 532 long-term care facilities to ensure residents’ voices are heard when concerns are expressed related to their care, their wishes and their rights.”
Through the program, Volunteer Ombudsmen work closely with one of Iowa’s eight Local Long-Term Care Ombudsmen in a specific facility to assist residents with problems or concerns, monitor their quality of care and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect. No previous experience in health care is required, but applicants must have a friendly disposition, the ability to problem-solve collaboratively and be willing to commit at least three hours per month for one year.
In just over a year, Volunteer Ombudsmen have already made significant contributions for long-term care residents across Iowa, including helping to develop a veterans’ visitation program in one facility, assisting with the establishment of a family council in another and working to preserve residents’ rights and options during a facility closure. Additional volunteers are needed to push for changes like these in their communities and ensure every long-term care resident in Iowa has a voice.
“The VOP will be a truly rewarding volunteer experience for anyone who is interested in making a difference in residents’ lives,” Clingan-Fischer added.
To learn more about the Volunteer Ombudsman Program, or to request an application, call the Volunteer Ombudsman Program Coordinator at 866-236-1430 or visit www.iowaaging.gov/vop.