The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

October 13, 2013

NODA wants ombudsmen

ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma Development Authority is seeking people to make a difference in their community.

Julie Torson, ombudsman supervisor, said NODA Area Agency on Aging is seeking volunteers to perform the job of ombudsman, being an advocate for residents of long-term care facilities. Ombudsman volunteers are needed due to the many residents in nursing homes and assisted-living centers that may not have visitors or someone to speak up for them. Statistically, about 60 percent of nursing home residents never have any visitors, Torson said.

“Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an ombudsman program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system,” Torson said.

The state system is operated by the aging services division of Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Torson and David Huff oversee the volunteer program at NODA, which deals with more than 30 agencies in its service area. That area includes Garfield, Kingfisher, Blaine, Major, Alfalfa, Grant, Kay and Noble counties.

Each volunteer is assigned a long-term care facility they visit and speak up for residents. Those facilities include nursing homes, residential care and assisted-living facilities. As ombudsman volunteers, they will help improve the quality of care available to residents as they assist in resolving complaints and problems, Torson said.

“We need more volunteers,” Torson said.

Because of the need for more volunteers, NODA Area Agency on Aging plans training sessions 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 for those interested. Training will be held in the NODA conference room at 2901 N. Van Buren and will cover senior issues, resident rights, nursing home laws and advocacy methods. Anyone interested may attend the training with no obligation, she said.

Anyone interested may call Torson or Huff to RSVP or ask questions at 237-2236. Training also can be offered by special arrangement.

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