Often, people who live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes are among the most vulnerable in our community. Many don’t have families or friends to look after or advocate for them. The Ombudsman Program gives these people a voice and to help them feel valued and heard. The position of ombudsman for seniors is a volunteer position that anyone in the community can apply for. All Area Agencies on Aging have regional ombudsman you can contact through your local agency. There are also community volunteers who assist the regional ombudsman.
What Does an Ombudsman Do?
Ombudsmen are representatives for those living in long-term care, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. They listen to the residents’ complaints and work to uncover any problems the residents may be experiencing with the facility, the staff, or the level of care they are receiving. The ombudsmen act as a voice for the elders in long term care facilities and work to protect their rights and ensure that their issues are heard and solved.
Typically, an ombudsman will visit their assigned facility on a weekly basis. In addition to looking into issues and problems, you will spend time with the residents getting to know them and learning about their lives. Many of our volunteers say this is the most rewarding part of volunteering. You get to build lasting relationships with the people you are advocating for and you get to see the immediate results of the positive changes you are making in their lives.
Duties of the Ombudsmen
- Inform residents of their rights under Federal and State Law and assist them in protecting their rights
- Provide information about the Ombudsman Program to residents and families
- Refer complaints and concerns to the Regional Ombudsman
- Observe and report conditions in nursing homes to the Regional Ombudsman
- Perform regular visitation to one specific nursing home, assisted living or residential care facility
How Do I Become an Ombudsman for Seniors?
If you are interested in senior advocacy in Arkansas, you may want to consider becoming an ombudsman. You must be 18 years or older to apply and you cannot have any family members living or working in the facility to which you are assigned.
There are no special requirements you have to fulfill to become an ombudsman other than good communication skills, a positive attitude, and genuinely caring for your community’s seniors. Your Area Agency on Aging will provide you with all the training you will need to become a certified ombudsman:
- 8 hours of classroom training
- A 12-hour nursing home practicum
- Quarterly in-service training classes
- Optional 1 state-sponsored quarterly training per year (highly encouraged)
What You Need To Know
- An ombudsman is an advocate for seniors in your community
- Ombudsman help with reporting senior abuse in AR
- Anyone can become an ombudsman
- You must become certified by completing a short training process (about 2 days total)
- You can apply with your Area Agency on Aging
How to Become an Ombudsman for Seniors in Arkansas
If you are interested in becoming an ombudsman for seniors in your area, contact your Area Agency on Aging’s Information and Assistance team by selecting the region in which you live. You will be directed to the appropriate contact information and resources. If you have any questions, please contact us–we’re more than happy to help walk you through the application process and help you get started with this life-changing program.