The OEDA Area Agency on Aging is seeking volunteers to fill roles as Ombudsmen.
With over 2.5 million people living in nursing homes and similar permanent care residences, it is crucial to make sure that they are being treated properly, said Jerome Thomas, Ombudsmen supervisor.
An Ombudsman is the voice for people who may not otherwise be heard. Thomas said the area is currently in need of volunteers.
"It's truly needed" Thomas said. "They are guaranteed rights by federal law."
Many care facilities do a good job of assuring quality care and treatment of their residents, but that is not always the case.
"Most often the administration wants to get issues resolved, but sometimes it takes more than that," Thomas said.
Those interested in volunteering must undergo a 2 day training that runs approximately 6 hours per day. After the training, volunteers must have a background check and become certified by the state.
Volunteers are only assigned to one facility and they are required to spend a minimum of 2 hours a week volunteering at their assigned location, Thomas said.
They will spend their time visiting with residents and getting to know them.
"A lot of them (nursing home residents) don't have family and don't get any visitors," Thomas said.
Volunteers will make sure there are not any issues that need to be addressed.
"If they have the residents permission, they address the issue with the facility," Thomas said.
If the issues are not resolved then it is reported outside the facility. Volunteers are participating as a member of a state and federal program. They are not a part of the facility itself.
"We are like a 3rd party that can intercede and advocate for the residents," Thomas said.
Currently Ombudsmen are needed in a variety of locations including Woodward, Vici, and Shattuck. Anyone interested may contact Jerome Thomas at (580) 527-1007 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is typically in the office from Tuesday until Thursday.