Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Ombudsman is a Swedish word meaning "One who speaks on behalf of another."
In the case of the MARC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, this term is used for trained volunteers and staff who work with area nursing home residents and their families. They help resolve concerns they may have about life in a nursing home. In many cases, the concern may seem small or trivial, a missing sweater or a call light that is slow to be answered, but to an older person who is dependent on others for their care, the issue may be crucially important.
If a resident has a concern, the ombudsman is a vital resource in resolving the concern. Often, the ombudsman acts as a buffer between the resident and the facility staff, allowing the resident to more freely and openly express their concerns. But even more important, the ombudsman may represent a resident's only link to the world outside the nursing home, helping them to maintain contact with their community.
Volunteers are the key to the success of this program. By visiting once a week, volunteers can develop a meaningful relationship with residents, giving them something to look forward to. In turn, this relationship allows concerns to be handled while they are still manageable, rather than leaving them to become a crisis.
Staff will also work with individuals who are placing a friend or family member in a nursing home by sharing information and answering questions as they make this difficult decision.