NJ To Have Volunteers Advocating For The Elderly
There is more need of volunteers in South Jersey to look after the nursing homes of the area and find the resident's health and safety. These volunteers pay unannounced weekly visits and solve concerns related to the life quality of the residents like broken televisions, as well as bigger problems like dental care or financial reimbursements.
According to Debra Branch, the ombudsman of New Jersey for institutionalised elderly, there are an immediate need of these kinds of volunteers. The 14 investigators of the branch were unable to oversee the 1,555 nursing homes of the state, the assisted living facilities and the long term care sites without these volunteers.
The volunteers have access to the different care facilities for 24 hour and seven days a week. They talk to residents in recreation room, cafeterias, at the bedside and during the time of undergoing physical therapy. The goal is to resolve the issues with staff members amicably without the need of state officials. This is the goal of the program said the program coordinator, Joann Cancel.
The program that began in 1993 was aimed to bring in a visible representation of the rights and needs of long term care residents who are 60 years or over. The program gets funding from the Federal Older Americans Act.
Cancel said that the state-wide representation of volunteers is around 200, although there are some South Jersey counties that have no volunteers at all. There are four in Burlington, while Camden and Gloucester Counties have five each.
Branch feels that people are living longer and as a result, they are outliving their spouses and family. Hence, there is a need of someone to represent them. To meet this end, the work is supported by volunteers who were trained at medical, ethical and legal aspects and took 32 hours for the entire course. These volunteers attended the quarterly workshop on elder care.
Sometimes, volunteers have to face some real tough situations, Branch said. There may be a need to take a tough stand that people find unsavoury.
In between 2007 and 2008, there was an increase in complaints to the ombudsmen from across the state. These involved financial exploitation, sometimes by family members, poor care planning, physical abuse and involuntary discharges. There are calls related to inadequate record keeping, accidental injury and abuse among residents. The volunteers come with the investigators and learn the history of the home, staff and residents. As Vine at 83 who works as a volunteer, said that it is imperative to gain the confidence of the residents and also be able to work with the administrator. Bullying fails in this case.
In most cases, the jobs involve improving the quality of life like helping communication with families, finding missing laundry and arranging haircuts or simply have a conversation. Most of these work could well be done by an investigator and do not require the help of an investigator. Although, these seem to be little things, they are quite important tasks that need to be done.
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