2005-04-22 / Community

Seek Vols To Work With Senior Citizens

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens is launching a campaign to extend its Volunteer Ombudsman pool to assist not only residents of nursing and adult homes but also those in assisted living facilities. Volunteer Ombudsmen visit residents weekly, advocate for and work with them and staff to maintain high standards of care.

The message of the Volunteer Ombudsman campaign is: “Be a V.I.P. – Very Important Person — in the life of an assisted living, nursing or adult home resident. Be the voice of those who can’t speak up for themselves. One small change can bring a smile to the face of an elderly or handicapped New Yorker.”

“Ombudsmen play a vital role in helping assure that the residents maintain their dignity and receive the highest quality of care,” says Linda Hoffman, President of New York Foundation for Senior Citizens which oversees the program in New York City. “Volunteer Ombudsmen find the experience rewarding, challenging and fun.”

In response to legislation passed in December 2004, New York State will soon require that there be an Ombudsman in each assisted living residence in New York City.

“This legislation fulfills an important need of residents in assisted living facilities,” says Marty Haase, the New York State Long Term Care Ombudsman with the New York State Office for the Aging.

In Queens, there are 38 nursing homes including 16 in Far Rockaway, 24 adult homes and 24 currently licensed assisted living residences.

The goal is to have one Ombudsman for every 100 residents.

Sara Berger, a Belle Harbor resident, is a Volunteer Ombudsman at New Gloria’s Manor and Belle Harbor Manor, which are both in Rockaway Park. A retired teacher, she has been an Ombudsman for 15 years.

“Sometimes it is such a little thing that makes a big difference,” Ms. Berger says. “The residents feel comfortable speaking with me. I can talk to the appropriate staff members and quickly resolve residents’ issues. Being a Volunteer Ombudsman gives me great satisfaction.”

Volunteer Ombudsmen must meet the following requirements: be age 21 or older; complete a free training program; and serve as a volunteer for four hours per week close to their home.

Those interested in becoming a VIP Volunteer Ombudsman should phone 212-962-2723 for more information.

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens Ombudsman Program is federally mandated and funded through grants from the New York State Office for the Aging and a contract with the New York City Department for the Aging.

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