NJ Agency That Combats Nursing Home Elder Abuse Urgently Needs Volunteers in Ocean County

Training Classes Forming Now
By Maria Scandale | Jul 03, 2019

Ocean County, NJ — The New Jersey Long Term Care Ombudsman has identified an urgent need for volunteer nursing home advocates in Ocean County. NJLTCO is currently recruiting for volunteers to be assigned to skilled nursing facilities in Toms River, Whiting, Lakewood, Point Pleasant, Bayville, Manahawkin, Brick and Little Egg Harbor.

NJLTCO provides advocacy to people living in long-term care facilities and investigates allegations of abuse and neglect in those facilities. Its volunteer advocates are at the front lines in combating elder abuse and exploitation, said Long-Term Care Ombudsman Laurie F. Brewer.

Volunteers undergo 32 hours of training in communication, observation and troubleshooting skills and are required to shadow an experienced volunteer before being assigned to a facility. Once assigned, they are required to spend at least four hours a week visiting residents, listening to their concerns and troubleshooting problems with the facility administration.

“Volunteer advocates are a lifeline for many residents of long-term care facilities in New Jersey. These committed volunteers provide friendship and companionship to elderly residents of nursing facilities. They also identify and mediate problems on the resident’s behalf,” said LTCO Statewide Volunteer Coordinator Deirdre Mraw.

When issues are identified in a nursing facility, the volunteer advocate can play an important role in resolving issues at the facility level. However, if an issue cannot be resolved satisfactorily, volunteer advocates can refer the matter for further action by the ombudsman’s office, she said.

“NJLTCO volunteer advocates are a reflection of the broader community,” said Mraw. “They come from all walks of life and every age group. Some volunteer advocates become interested in working with elderly residents as a result of their own personal experiences with aging family members. Others are retirees seeking a meaningful and rewarding way to use the skills they acquired during their working lives to benefit the larger community.”

Today, with the number of elderly people who are living in long-term care facilities continuing to increase, the need for volunteers is even more critical, she said.

“If you are looking for a challenging volunteer opportunity that offers flexible hours, I can’t think of a more important way to contribute to your community,” said Brewer, noting that 24 of the Ocean County’s 32 licensed nursing homes do not currently have a volunteer advocate assigned.

NJLTCO is currently seeking applications for a fall 2019 volunteer advocate training session. Anyone over the age of 21 who is interested in volunteering can email Mraw at Deirdre.Mraw@ltco.nj.gov or call her at 609-826-5053. Or check out the NJ Long Term Care Ombudsman website at nj.gov/ltco to sign up. —M.S.

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