Specialized Information for:

Nursing HomesAssisted Living/Board & Care Home and Community Based Services

Becoming a Volunteer

The estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $20.85.

View stories recognizing the dedication of volunteer ombudsmen.

More than three-fourths of states use volunteer ombudsmen to visit facilities and handle grievances. In some states, volunteer ombudsmen visit and listen to residents' concerns as well as problem solve. In other states, volunteers provide friendly visitation only.

Residents of long-term care facilities sometimes have little or no contact with the outside world. Many feel they lack control over their lives. A friendly volunteer who visits regularly can be a bright spot in an elderly resident's day. Many residents are alone and would be very happy to have your visits. This may also help ensure they get good care if someone from the community is looking in on them regularly.

What Does a Volunteer Ombudsman Do?

  • Visits residents on a regular basis.
  • Listens to residents' concerns and problems while having a friendly visit

And in some states, volunteers:

  • Problem solve
  • Report observations
  • Support residents' rights, privacy, and confidentiality
  • Refer urgent concerns to the state or regional ombudsman
  • Perform other tasks. Each ombudsman program has different needs for volunteers. Check with your state ombudsman program for their needs.

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Who Can Volunteer?

If you are 21 years old or older, have available transportation and possess genuine care and concern for older adults, you may be able to become a volunteer ombudsman.  Contact the ombudsman program in your area for more information.

Does Volunteering Require Special Skills?

The most important requirements are compassion, respect for older persons, and common sense. A positive attitude, ability to communicate effectively and available time are important. Ombudsman programs provide training and supervision in developing specific skills.

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What are the Benefits of Volunteering?

Volunteers benefit through the joy of making a difference in the lives of residents through the development of interpersonal skills and through preparation for their own aging.

Volunteers develop skills in:

  • Communication
  • Listening
  • Relationship Building
  • Confidentiality
  • Complaint resolution
  • Residents' Rights

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What is the Time Commitment?

It varies state to state. Some states require volunteers to commit six months to a year of volunteer time, spending two to three hours per week with residents that an assigned nursing home or assisted living facility. Training sessions are provided, and continuing training is expected.

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I'm Interested. Who do I Contact?

To volunteer, contact the ombudsman program nearest you.  When you click on the link, it will bring you to a map of the United States. Click on your state. This will display a list that includes your state long-term care ombudsman and the local and regional programs.

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