2014-11-28 / Neighborhoods

Ombudsman program keeps an eye on nursing homes

Submitted to The Champion


Some of the members of the Ombudsman Program at Montachusett Home Care Corporation. 
Courtesy photo Some of the members of the Ombudsman Program at Montachusett Home Care Corporation. Courtesy photo If you or a loved one lived in a nursing or rest home and had a concern about your care, who would you talk to about it to seek resolution?

Since 1977, the Ombudsman Program, Consumer Advocates For Better Care of Montachusett Home Care Corporation has served all of the nursing and rest home facilities in North Worcester County to advocate for resident’s rights and to help resolve problems that may arise about the resident’s care and quality of life.

The Ombudsman Program is mandated under the Older Americans Act to be active in all 50 states. In Massachusetts, volunteer training and certification is provided by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in Boston. After this training, each Ombudsman is assigned to his or her own facility to visit on a weekly basis for about two hours each visit. Ongoing program monitoring, ombudsman training and support is done at the local level by the program director and assistant director.

“Ombudsman” is the Scandinavian word for a person who helps resolve complaints for citizens. A Long Term Care ombudsman specifically visits local facilities on a regular (weekly) basis to talk with residents, evaluate the facility environment and bring to resolution any concerns that the residents may have. An ombudsman does not work for the facility, but rather is an objective member of the community who is assigned to a particular facility. Through regular visitation, the ombudsman and the residents get to know each other and to build a bond of trust, so that the residents know that the ombudsman is there to advocate for their rights in the facility.

Who are these ombudsmen? They are people from our own local communities

— working people, retired people, men, women, younger folks, older folks, all from different backgrounds. The one thing that they have in common is a compassionate desire to serve the residents in long term care facilities to help assure that they receive the best quality of life and care.

Ask any ombudsman why they volunteer for the program, they will respond that they get more than they give by helping ensure a good quality of life for residents and helping them resolve their issues in the facility.

“I truly enjoy what I do!” said Rita Trainque, 16 years service. “It’s another opportunity to help people and, most possibly, their quality of life. It is a way to show you care about the most fragile generation.”

The local Ombudsman Program has 13 trained certified ombudsmen to cover the 16 nursing and rest homes in North Central Massachusetts, with an accumulation of 117 years of experience as advocates for resident’s rights.

If interested in becoming an ombudsman or in learning more about this effective volunteer program, and if you have a heart for nursing and rest home residents, please contact Diane

Reed or Mary Ann Derzius at (978) 537-

7411, ext. 227.

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