For those looking for a rewarding way to spend extra time, volunteers are needed to become certified Ombudsmen.

"A Long Term Care Ombudsman is a person who volunteers to be there to help that "someone" living in a Nursing Home, or other long term care facility," says Jerome Thomas, Oklahoma State Ombudsman supervisor for Northwest Oklahoma.

Ombudsmen are advocates for residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, fighting for their rights and quality care.

Thomas has worked as a certified Ombudsman for four years now after managing a senior retirement apartment complex in the Tulsa area.

"Residents in nursing homes don't always have people to speak up for them," Thomas explains. "Either they don't have family left or they don't care which unfortunately happens."

Some residents are reluctant to complain or are afraid that the problem will only get worse if they speak up, according to Thomas.

Volunteers will spend a minimum of two hours a week visiting with residents of their assigned nursing home or care facility.

These volunteers will listen to residents' complaints or problems to ensure that they are not being mistreated in any way or their rights are not being denied.

If interested there is a two day, no commitment, training program that demonstrates what to expect and how to deal with potential problems encountered on the job.

The training program is free and open to anyone interested. It will cover what they can and can't do, what kind of reports volunteers have to make, and the federal and state laws involved.

After the course, if they are still interested in volunteering, applicants will undergo a background check and then be assigned to a specific nursing home or assisted living facility.

A volunteer will be in charge in only one nursing home or assisted living facility.

Volunteers are currently needed in Alva, Seiling, Beaver, Guymon, and Shattuck.

"I sure would like to find some more volunteers," says Thomas. "It is time consuming but really rewarding work. Lots of people don't have anyone else and they really need someone to help them with their needs."

For more information call Thomas at 918-576-9565 or email ombudsman@OEDA.org

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