Volunteer for the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program - Podcast Transcript

Recorded: August 29, 2012 

Narration: Welcome to Fairfax County’s News to Use about Long-Term Care, the podcast that brings you consumer information as well as information on protecting the rights and quality of life of those living in nursing and assisted living facilities.

I’m your host, Jim Person.

On today’s show, we will discuss the volunteer program of the Northern Virginia Long-Term Ombudsman Program. 

Opening Music: 

Part 1

Jim: Joining me today is Lisa Callahan, an ombudsman with the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Welcome, Lisa.

Lisa: Hi, Jim. Thanks for having me.

Jim: Lisa, give our listeners a brief description of what your program does and who it represents.

Lisa:  Sure, Jim. An Ombudsman is one who investigates, reports and helps settle concerns. The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocates for residents of nursing facilities and assisted living facilities when they have a complaint about their care or if they feel that that facility staff has not respected their rights. We then work with the resident, or the resident’s family, and the facility to resolve the complaint.

Another of our major activities is providing training and consultation to facility staff so they so they can better understand resident rights and quality of care guidelines. 

Jim: I understand your program covers all of Northern Virginia, is that correct?

Lisa: Yes it does, Jim. We cover the jurisdictions of Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William. There are 33 nursing facilities and 86 assisted living facilitiesin Northern Virginia serving approximately 11,204 residents. 

Jim: Sounds like a big job.  

Lisa:  It really is and we couldn’t do it without our small group of volunteers.

Jim: And, of course, that’s why you are here today – to recruit volunteers.  Why don’t you begin by telling us what Volunteer Ombudsmen do?

Lisa: OK, in a nutshell, volunteer ombudsmen visit residents in long-term care facilities. Their job is to monitor the quality of care and represent the residents’ interests to the facility staff.

Jim: Lisa, give us an example of typical kinds of resident concerns or quality of care issues that a volunteer ombudsman could confront.

Lisa: Some examples of resident concerns include shortage of staff, slow response to call bells, poor food quality and violation of the rights under the Residents’ Bill of Rights.

Jim: We are planning another podcast on Resident Rights, but can you give our listeners a quick description of these?

Lisa: The first thing to know is that residents do not lose their rights when they enter a long-term care facility.In addition to your basic civil rights,the federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 requires all nursing facilities and assisted living facilities to promote and protect the rights of each resident. It also sets quality standards, and places a strong emphasis on individual dignity and self-determination

One of the things our volunteers do, is distribute the Resident Rights card to all new residents.  

Jim: I see, so what do volunteer ombudsmen do when confronting a rights violation or a quality of care issue?

Lisa: . . . .

Break: Thank you Lisa; let’s take a quick break.  When we return, Lisa will discuss the training ombudsman volunteers receive and why you should consider this volunteer opportunity. Stay tuned!

Transition: Sound Effect 

Part 2

Jim: Lisa, what kind of people typically volunteer for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program?

Lisa: Well, typically, of course they are very caring people. Other than that, they are extremely diverse. Our volunteers include lawyers, social workers, nurses, teachers, government workers, and are just people who want to help residents.

Jim: Why should people consider becoming a volunteer ombudsman?

Lisa:  Well, our volunteers say it is extremely rewarding to advocate for the very vulnerable people we represent. We also provide excellent training, flexible schedules, and a chance to meet new and wonderful people.

Jim:  How much time does the volunteer commitment require? 

Lisa: A one-year commitment is initially required. After the initial training, each volunteer is required to spend a minimum of four hours per week visiting residents mainly on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Jim: I understand that ombudsman volunteers require special training and certification.

Lisa: Yes, the annual New Volunteer Ombudsman training takes place once a year.

After the initial training, volunteers attend bimonthly trainings. 

Jim: And you generally recruit toward the end of year?

Lisa: Yes, we launch our recruitment drive in the Fall and so that the application process will be completed for the training.

Jim: Thank you for being with us Lisa. If you would like to volunteer for the Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program call, 703-324-5861; TTY 711. 

Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can also visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/LTCOmbudsman. There you will also find long-term care information and information on complaint filing.

Until we meet again, this is Jim Person for News to Use about Long Term Care.

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