Family service agency in dire need of volunteers for long-term care ombudsmen | Good for Santa Barbara

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Posted on July 17, 2021
| 9:00 a.m.

More than half of all residents of long-term care facilities have no one to speak on their behalf. Many do not have parents or regular visitors. This frail population cannot itself express its grievances; they rely on the staff and volunteers of the Santa Barbara County Long Term Care Ombudsman Program to advocate for their rights.

The Family Service Agency runs the state-mandated program and seeks to double the number of volunteers in 2021. Today, there are only seven volunteer ombudsman representatives who work alongside staff to serve some 5 000 residents in 133 long-term care facilities in Santa Barbara County.

“I can still hear my mother’s voice say the word ‘ombudsman’,” said Lynn Holzman, a retired nurse who became a certified ombudsman volunteer in February.

After Holzman moved to Santa Barbara in the 1990s, her grandmother moved to be near her because she was the most capable family member to take care of her. “My mom said to call the ombudsman,” Holzman said. “They provided a list of nursing homes to help us get started. “

After Holzman’s recent retirement from Serenity House, the once odd word ombudsman took on new meaning as an opportunity to “do something valuable for the community”.

As a volunteer ombudsman representative, Holzman and her fellow volunteers advocate and help protect the rights of residents of long-term care facilities to quality care. They work in a variety of facilities that include nursing and assisted living services and range from five residents to over 300.

Even a small change in a resident’s care can make a big difference in quality of life, such as changing meal specifications or bath time. Ombudsman representatives are responsible for assessing, helping resolve or referring complaints and concerns from security protocols to potential cases of physical, emotional or financial abuse.

Regular unscheduled visits are an opportunity for residents to get to know and trust the volunteers. Visits are also one of the most powerful rewards of volunteering. Even a five-minute visit can be the highlight of the week for a resident with no family or other visitors – a chance to be seen and heard, to share a caring conversation and a smile.

While a commitment of at least one year is encouraged, volunteers enjoy extensive support and flexibility. To become a Certified Ombudsman Representative, interns receive 36 hours of online and in-class training, a minimum of 10 hours of observation, continuing education and mentoring, and immediate access to program staff for questions. or problems.

Currently, the time that volunteers choose to devote varies between two and 20 hours per week.

Each volunteer has an interesting story, but what they all have in common is their passion for seniors and their desire to protect and advocate for the best possible quality of care and life for them.

“Ultimately, our volunteers are there to ensure that residents receive the care that will give them the best possible quality of life wherever they are, with respect and dignity,” said Marco Quintanar, supervisor of the Santa’s program. Barbara County Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

“We work with each of our volunteers to create a setting that will fit their schedule and also bring them joy and satisfaction. What they learn here can help them with their own relatives or friends, ”he said.

Even with her deep experience in nursing and end-of-life care, Holzman initially worried about being “a beginner.” With the support of training and observation, she quickly learned about common issues and participated in family reunions.

“When I do my sightseeing, I have my business card, my pen, and my checklist of what to look for,” Holzman said. “I’m trying to make a connection. Then, when a problem arises, the ombudsman program team works with me to create a plan. I never feel like I’m alone.

To learn more about how to become a certified ombudsman or other ways to support Family Service Agency programs for the elderly, call Marco Quintanar at (805) 922-1236 or visit http: / /www.volunteer4seniors.org

To learn more about the Santa Barbara County Family Services Agency, visit fsacares.org or call 805-965-1001

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