New program seeks advocates for those living in care facilities

DES MOINES – The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is seeking volunteers to become members of its new Volunteer Ombudsman Program. The VOP wishes to place one to two volunteers in every nursing facility, residential care facility and elder group home in Iowa.

Volunteer Ombudsmen are trained, certified volunteers that visit one local long-term care facility to advocate for residents’ rights. This includes visiting with residents about their quality of care and quality life in the facility and seeking to resolve their concerns. This unique and rewarding opportunity requires a minimum commitment of three hours per month for one year.

Skills necessary include a friendly disposition, active listening, collaborative problem solving, and a strong appreciation for older Iowans and Iowans with disabilities. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Previous experience in health care is not required. Certain conflicts of interest may prevent some people from serving, including current employees of long-term care facilities and their family members.

The benefits of becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman include:

Training, resources, and continuing support from the State Long-Term Care

Ombudsman’s Office;

Rewarding relationships with long-term care residents;

A flexible schedule-volunteers are able to conduct their service as it suits their lifestyle; and,

The opportunity to learn more about navigating the system of long-term care.

New volunteer training is scheduled in the following counties on select dates now through February: Linn, Black Hawk, Washington, Scott, Benton, and Polk. New volunteer training is anticipated for the following counties in the spring: Appanoose, Carroll, Pottawattamie, Woodbury, Sioux, Clay, Cerro Gordo, Story, Marshall, and Winneshiek. Other counties will be visited later in 2014, or as demand necessitates. Volunteer applications must be submitted prior to attending training.

To learn more about the Volunteer Ombudsman Program, and to request an application, contact Sarah Hinzman, Volunteer Ombudsman Program Coordinator at 866-236-1430, or visit the website at