Stephanie's Heroes: JABA Ombudsman Program

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

September 12, 2011

A group at the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) is learning everything they need to know to become a volunteer ombudsman.

The ombudsman program helps advocate for people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“To make sure residents defined rights are protected. Those include things like right to dignity, their right to confidentiality and privacy and the right to have visitors,” said Doris Gelbman.

A job Gelbman says some residents can't always do for themselves.

“I think it's particularly necessary in an elder community like nursing homes because they are so frequently not able to advocate for themselves," said the ombudsman volunteer. "Or they don't have family members or someone else who's available to do it for them."

That's why Jamie McReynolds signed up. He's a former Hospice Chaplain and wants to continue giving back.

“I loved being able to hear people's stories. It's amazing what's important in people's lives and what's made their lives meaningful,” said the ombudsman in training.

After training, each ombudsman is placed in a facility throughout Central Virginia. Their duty is to make sure each location follows the rules and regulations.

“If there are particular issues that residents bring up we work with staff trying to come up with solutions to issues that they have,” said McReynolds.

A tough job, but one the community says they are heroes for doing.

“It makes me feel great and it's the number one reason as far as I'm concerned to do this kind of work. As much as it helps them feel good it makes me feel far better,” said Gelbman.

“Just making a difference in people's lives is important to me. It's part of being part of a larger community,” McReynolds added.

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