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Volunteer Ombudsmen Needed In Eastern Idaho

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get involved as a community volunteer, now may be your chance.

The award-winning long-term care ombudsman program in eastern Idaho is looking for more help by the end of the month.

Ombudsmen go into nursing homes and assisted living facilities to ensure every resident is safe with proper care.

Reporter Jessica Crandall joined a volunteer on Tuesday. She quickly found out this position provides long-term residents with much more than just care — it develops valuable friendships.

Volunteer ombudsman Irene Hansen visits patients every week in two separate assisted living facilities, Parkwood Meadows and Mountain Valley.

“The comfort and well-being of the resident is what we’re concerned about,” said Hansen.

Hansen checks in to say hello and see if needs are being met.

“I’m doing the best I can and I thank God that I’m OK. That’s for sure,” said resident Josephine to Irene.

Hansen said volunteering as an ombudsman for Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP) is more than assessing the needs of elderly patients.

“Being their friend is very important. Some of them don’t have very many visitors or family close by,” said Hansen.

She said every retiree should give back to the community.

“I think as we get older, we have the responsibility to serve others and to help make their lives more pleasant,” said Hansen.

Parkwood Meadows Community Relations Director Mike Beckstead agrees.

“I think it’s a great thing they do. It helps our residents as far as being able to talk to somebody about anything that’s going on,” said Beckstead.

Marie Peterson and Helen Stanton train ombudsmen for EICAP. They said as volunteer consultations go up, long term resident complaints go down.

“It validates they’re still alive, they’re still here, they’re still happy to see someone,” said Stanton.

The long-term care ombudsmen program in the state of Idaho was named No. 1 for facility visits by the American Association of Retired Persons in 2010.

If you’d like to get involved in the program, dial (208) 522-5391 and ask for Helen or Marie.

They’ll be hosting training meetings starting on the Jan. 24.

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