Volunteers are needed to represent Minnesota’s long-term care residents 

Help is needed for Minnesota’s assisted living and nursing home residents. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota’s Office of Ombudsman for […]

Nurses hand on top of patients

Help is needed for Minnesota’s assisted living and nursing home residents. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota’s Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care had 33 certified ombudsman volunteers statewide. Fast forward to the fall of 2022, and there are only 14 volunteer ombudsmen serving nearly 2,500 nursing care and assisted living facilities across Minnesota. 

Addressing the ombudsman volunteer shortage was a focus of Residents’ Rights Month during October. Training is provided and it can be a very rewarding task. There are currently 14 regions in the state without even one volunteer. 

“Just as nursing homes are struggling to recruit and retain staff, we face the same challenge with volunteers,” said Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Minnesota Cheryl Hennen. “Volunteers are a critical part of our team, advocating for people living in long-term care facilities to enhance their quality of life and services.” 

A major part of a volunteer’s role is educating residents, families and long-term care staff on residents’ rights. Volunteers advocate for people living in long-term care facilities to enhance their quality of life and services.  

Volunteers provide access and information to residents about the services of the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care. They provide a regular presence in an assigned long-term care facility and build strong relationships with residents and facility staff.  

Other volunteer activities include supporting complaint investigations and assisting residents in resolving concerns, and attending resident and family council meetings. 

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, have reliable transportation, and enjoy working with older adults and people with disabilities.

Counties with the biggest volunteer needs are Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Chippewa, Freeborn, Hennepin, Itasca, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Mower, Nobles, Ramsey, Redwood, Rice, Rock, St. Louis, Washington, Wright and Yellow Medicine 

Prospective volunteers must submit an applications and two reference forms, pass a background check and complete an interview. 

Volunteers will also need to complete an initial 36 hours of orientation training to become designated Certified Ombudsman Volunteers. Orientation includes a mixture of classroom training, shadowing experiences and independent study. Volunteers are required to complete 18 hours of training every year to maintain designation.  

Volunteers must dedicate at least six hours every month to visiting their assigned facility, amd are askled to commit to one year of service. 

To learn more, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Marie Kessler at marie.l.kessler@state.mn.us or calling (651) 890-6308. 

Details on the rights of long-term care residents are available at https://mn.gov/ooltc/residentandfamilyresources/. 

Find more information on the Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care at https://mn.gov/ooltc/. The office provides free confidential advocacy services. 

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