Ombudsman services were established by the Older Americans Act to advocate for consumers of long-term care services. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program contracts with 52 Area Agencies on Aging to provide Ombudsman services. These services are provided by Area Agency on Aging staff and volunteers.
‘Ombudsman’ is a Swedish word that means citizen representative, advocate, mediator.
An Ombudsman is a trained individual who helps protect the RIGHTS of older Pennsylvanians living in long-term care facilities. Long-term care is referred to as a living environment for a person residing in Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living, Personal Care Home, or a participant in a Older Adult Daily Living Center as well as a consumer living in the community. Ombudsmen are dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals receiving long-term care by working to resolve resident issues and concerns. Ombudsmen provide information, answer questions, investigate complaints and offer assistance to resolve resident problems about the quality of care or treatment provided to a resident.
As a volunteer Ombudsman you "advocate for those who can't, support those who can and ensure all long-term care consumers live with dignity and respect." As a volunteer, you are resident directed, impartial and highly visible.
Volunteer Ombudsman receive an orientation and training that includes an overview of the Ombudsman program, characteristics of long term care residents, resident rights, communication skills, and an understanding of the role volunteer's play in enriching the lives of residents. Volunteers are assigned to a specific facility in Berks County. They are required to visit this facility 1 - 4 times per month (minimum of 2 hours per visit or total). Continued education is required to maintain volunteer Ombudsman status.
As a volunteer Ombudsman, you may be the resident's only link to a voice that cares. As a visible resident advocate, you are helping to ensure that individuals residing in long term care facilities have a good quality of life and receive good quality care.