Dear Editor

I am writing in order to help people become aware of a very worthwhile volunteer opportunity right here in Carbon County.

I am referring to the long term care Ombudsman program which has been developed by the PA Agency of Aging. This program is locally administered by the Carbon County Agency on Aging and its main focus is to advocate on behalf of residents in long term care facilities and for those receiving services from community and adult day care.

The mission of the Ombudsman program is "to advocate for those who can't, support those who can and to ensure that all long term care consumers live with dignity and respect." As volunteers we can be an important part of helping to provide this dignity and respect by enabling long term care residents understand their rights and have a voice in their care and well-being.

I have been a volunteer Ombudsman in three long term care facilities here in Carbon County for over three years. I have, personally, learned a lot and seen a lot as I go to visit the residents. Gone are the days when being admitted to a long term care facility meant loss of freedom and dignity. Today long term care residents are encouraged to take part in the decisions of how their care is to be provided and how to become a vital part of improving the everyday life in the facility they now call home. I also have the pleasure of hearing about their lives and families. I now realize these people are not just an old person sitting in a 'home". They are people who have experienced the richness of life and the sadness of life. They have many stories to tell.

Anyone who has a good listening ear and a caring heart is encouraged to become a volunteer Ombudsman. You will find that it will prove to be a rewarding experience. There is free training available to help you get started, as well as regular network meetings with other volunteer Ombudsman. Please call Carbon County Area Agency on Aging at 610-824-7830 or 1-800-441-1315 and ask for the Ombudsman to learn more about this great program. Please consider becoming a part of the Carbon County Ombudsman team!

Submitted by,

Jean Zimmerman

Tier 1 Volunteer Ombudsman