Specialized Information for:

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

Volunteer Opportunities

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.

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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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Other Volunteer Resources

The Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative
The Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative is a national resource center that helps leaders in the aging and disability networks engage talented older adult volunteers to meet growing needs for services.The Volunteer Collaborative offers online resources, comprehensive training, and opportunities for leaders to learn best practices from each other.

National Partnership with LexisNexis
With the beginning of the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative in 2010, a network-wide civic engagement assessment, including local and state programming, was conducted to determine what organizations are facing as major challenges to being willing and able to engage more volunteers in their missions.  One of the top challenges was the hurdle of risk management, and specifically the time and cost involved in background checks and screening.  In partnership with NASUAD, the Volunteer Collaborative has vetted numerous risk management vendors and now entered into an agreement with LexisNexis, a national provider of comprehensive background screening services, to leverage premier-level services through web-based tools at a discounted rate – in some cases almost 80 percent off typical rates.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Resource Center
The National Consumer Protection Technical Resource Center serves AoA’s 54 Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) programs located throughout the country, including the District of Columbia, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. It is more commonly known as the “SMP Resource Center.” The SMP Resource Center also promotes national visibility for the SMP program and helps the general public locate their state SMP project.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Certification Survey (March 2010)
Coordinated by NORC and NASOP, this survey looks at certification and initial training requirements for long-term care ombudsmen. Forty-two states participated in the survey.

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