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Wanted: Volunteers to stand up for the elderly

By Barbara Peters Smith, Herald-Tribune | Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has been caught for more than a year in a swirl of political skirmishes and legal challenges, which sometimes makes it easy to lose sight of those dedicated, unpaid volunteers who still go out to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities and make sure the rights of residents are being respected and protected.

The program is always looking for more Floridians who can devote time and patience to sorting out questions that can range from adequate medical care to residents’ quality of life and self-determination.

More than 300 trained volunteers in the state program gather facts to address complaints or concerns of elderly residents who may not always be able to stand up for themselves. The job requires “a commitment to assist residents in making their homelike environments happpy and safe for everybody,” says Ann Proie, manager for the ombudsman district that covers Sarasota and Charlotte counties. “What they need is heart, caring and an understanding of the elderly. And time.”

If you think you have a combination of these assets, and you want to make a real difference for elders who depend on others for so many daily needs, you can start the application process by calling this toll-free number, (888) 831-0404, or visit the ombudsman program website.

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