2011-02-25 / Community

Seek Volunteer Ombudsmen

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens will conduct training for people living in Far Rockaway who are interested in becoming Volunteer Ombudsmen. Volunteer Ombudsman – the voice of those who can’t speak up for themselves – visit nursing and adult home residents weekly, advocating on their behalf and helping to resolve their concerns by liaising with facility staff to maintain high standards of care.

“We recognize that it is difficult for people in the Rockaways to come to Manhattan for interviews and training so we are bringing the interview process and training to the Rockaways,” says Debbie Warburton, director of New York Foundation for Senior Citizens’ Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. “We must respond to the needs of long term care facility residents living in the Rockaways.”

There are a total of 27 nursing and adult homes in the Rockaways, with a combined total of 5,130 residents. The goal is to have one Ombudsman for every 100 residents.

The 36-hour training required to become a Volunteer Ombudsman will take place in the Rockaways in April at Peninsula Hospital. During March, Warburton will be in the Rockaways to interview prospective candidates. All candidates must be interviewed prior to the training. 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 in a facility close to their home. Those interested in becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman should phone 212-962- 2720 for more details.

“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.”

Claudia Milton has been a Volunteer Ombudsman at Queens Nassau Nursing Home in Far Rockaway for four years. “Taking the training class on my home turf in Far Rockaway was very convenient. Since I didn’t have to ride the train all the way into the city, I could arrive for class feeling relaxed and ready to learn,” says Milton. My work as an Ombudsman is very rewarding — the residents at Queens Nassau Nursing Home have become part of my life. They tell me their problems and I feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I help them. I hope that when I get to my later years, I will have someone to help me the way I am helping these people.”

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.

Established in 1968, the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, sponsor of the Volunteer Ombudsman program, is the only non-profit, non-sectarian organization serving New York’s seniors in all five boroughs.

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