Health and Family Services Cabinet
Volunteers Sought for State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Efforts Coordinated with National Nursing Home Week
The State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (SLTCO) program is reminding Kentuckians that it only takes a few hours each month to make a major impact in improving the quality of life for nursing home residents.
As part of National Nursing Home Week, May 9-15, the SLTCO, part of the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is recruiting volunteers for the Certified Ombudsman and Friendly Visitors program to aid in their efforts to ensure Kentucky’s nursing home residents are not forgotten.
“This program is the perfect opportunity for people who truly want to make a difference for a particularly vulnerable segment of our population,” said DAIL Commissioner Deborah Anderson. “Volunteers in this program can actually improve the quality of life and the quality of care for their fellow Kentuckians.”
The Certified Ombudsman and Friendly Visitors program is a volunteer program made up of two components. Friendly visitors are exactly as they sound – people who go to nursing homes simply to visit with residents. Certified ombudsman volunteers are trained to investigate concerns, regularly visit long-term care facilities, monitor conditions and provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves.
“Sixty-six percent of nursing home residents receive only one visit per year from someone outside of the ombudsman program,” said Kimberly Baker, Kentucky long-term care ombudsman. “There are 471 nursing facilities in Kentucky. Volunteers have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference.”
Kentucky has 143 certified ombudsmen and 72 friendly visitors in the state. Volunteers need only to be able to commit a minimum of four hours per month.
“Currently, we do not have a volunteer in every county,” said Baker. “It’s our goal to have a volunteer for every facility in the state.”
People interested in volunteering in the program must pass a criminal background check, have no family member employed at a long-term care facility, complete state-provided certification training and pass a competency test.
Once volunteers complete the training, they can tailor visits to nursing homes to fit their schedules. Baker said the program is very convenient and flexible for its volunteers.
The SLTCO advocates for residents of Kentucky’s nursing homes, personal care homes and family care homes. Ombudsmen work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about improvements in care through changes at the local, state and national levels. The SLTCO program also oversees 15 district programs affiliated with Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living.
For more information on volunteering, call the office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at (800) 372-2991.