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In Recognition of Older Americans Month

By Jim Crochet
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

May is a time to honor elders in our communities as we recognize Older Americans Month. The Ombudsman Program is committed to serving Florida’s seniors. I am honored to share with you some accomplishments which took place under my leadership.

On May 2, 2011 I began as the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. In the span of one year, this program underwent a major paradigm shift from a regulatory focus toward a collaborative resident-centered advocacy focus. Last May we had 242 volunteers. Currently, we have over 300. Following the creation of a recruitment manager position and the development of partnerships with several Florida universities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate as ombudsmen as part of their internships, I expect our volunteer numbers to continue to increase.

As a way to adapt to a volunteer’s available time and schedule, we developed the first comprehensive online ombudsman certification training in the nation. I presented an overview of the training at the April 2012 National Association of State Ombudsman Programs Conference. There was such widespread interest that I agreed to work with the National Ombudsman Resource Center to share the training nationwide.

I want to extend my appreciation to the staff and volunteers of this program who made these accomplishments possible. First and foremost, their focus is the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents living in Florida long-term care settings. May we continue to honor and serve older Americans every day.

If you would like to join us to better the lives of long-term care residents, contact 1-888-831-0404 or visit ombudsman.myflorida.com to find out how you can volunteer. Bilingual Spanish and English speaking volunteers are needed!

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