Pamela Williams, King County Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman. The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program depends on local citizen volunteers to visit, resolve complaints, and advocate for the rights of residents.

Pamela Williams, King County Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman. The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program depends on local citizen volunteers to visit, resolve complaints, and advocate for the rights of residents.

Volunteering is a Win-Win

It’s been two years since the COVID deadly outbreak. No population was more harmed by the pandemic than residents and staff of long term care, accounting for between 35-40 percent of all deaths. Data is showing more than 75 percent of deaths nationwide are people over 65, including one in ten nursing home residents. In South King County there are 595 long term care facilities, home to almost 7,000 long term care residents.

Residents of long term care homes continue to be subject to a twin pandemic of COVID infection and prolonged isolation — which itself is causing declines in physical, cognitive, emotional health and even death.

Chronic staffing shortages are exacerbating the need for trained resident advocates

Covid isn’t the only killer out there. Omicron may be in retreat, but unfortunately the threat of poor quality care and the harm of isolation for residents in long term care are not. The staffing crisis in care facilities may well be the bigger threat to the wellbeing of residents.

Visitation from family, friends and independent advocates like volunteer ombuds literally saves lives, and is critical to honoring residents’ rights to autonomy, quality care, and dignity. Ombudsman is a Swedish word meaning “to advocate for another.” In Washington we use the terminology “ombuds.”

What is a long term care Ombudsman?

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is an independent organization that advocates for the rights of residents living in long term care homes. The program depends on local citizen volunteers in every community who are trained to visit, resolve complaints, and advocate for the rights of residents.

Ombuds are trained and certified to identify and address potential neglect, abuse, improper eviction or retaliation that residents may be experiencing, and ensure their right to quality care and visitation is protected. Volunteers check on residents to see how they are doing and if they have concerns, questions or needs. Ombuds serve as the voice for residents who too often don’t have one.

Ombuds resolve over 90 percent of the complaints received, reduce the need for costly government or legal interventions, and provide critical support to ensure the quality of care and that the legal rights of residents are being upheld.

Common violations of resident rights and complaints that Ombuds address include:

  • Involuntary discharge/eviction
  • Lack of personal dignity and respect
  • Slow or no response to request for assistance
  • Issues with medications
  • Issues related to hygiene
  • Civil rights and billing issues

During the pandemic, the Ombuds program delivered 1,060 electronic tablets to adult family homes across the state for residents to have virtual visits with loved ones, entertainment and online consultations with doctors. Volunteers personally wrote and delivered thousands of postcards to residents to let me know we’re still there for them.

Pamela Williams, King County Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman, reflected on the critical role program volunteers play: “I saw firsthand the meaning of dedication and understanding from volunteers working with vulnerable adults in long-term care. The thoughtfulness and passion from our volunteers help to ensure quality care for seniors living in long-term care facilities. Our volunteers give the gift of compassion and concern for a special slice of humanity.”

Call for community volunteers

Now with protective measures in place, the Washington State LTC Ombudsman Program has an urgent need for volunteers in every community. Ombuds volunteers genuinely enjoy their work, and report one of the things they like best about their role is the social connections they make with other volunteers and folks in their community.

Retired Bastyr professor, naturopathic physician and Seattle School District elementary school teacher Eric Jones is now part of the Ombuds program. As a volunteer Ombuds, Jones now advocates for residents in 22 long term care homes in the Enumclaw, Maple Valley area. Says Jones, “What’s most rewarding is developing relationships with residents, becoming their advocate. When a person must leave their home and move into long term care, it uproots their life, it can be scary and they feel the loss of independence. I like to make sure people understand they still have all their rights, they have a voice and choices, and they can still be involved in the activities they enjoy whether it’s inside the facility, or visiting with family or out in their community.”

Community members interested in volunteering with the Long Term Care Ombudsman program can find out more by visiting www.waombudsman.org or calling 1-800-562-6028.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

The news and editorial staff of Sound Publishing, Inc. had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of Sound Publishing, Inc.

Sound Publishing, Inc. does not accept liability for any loss or damages caused by the use of any products, nor do we endorse any products posted in our Marketplace.

More in Local Marketplace

Rob Iddins, managing partner of Iddins Law Group in Kent. Call 253-854-1244 or visit iddinslaw.com to request a complimentary phone consultation. Charles Cotugno Photo.
Wills and trusts: Choosing the tool that’s best for you

Kent law group offers complimentary consultations to help build your TRUST

Residents of Cadence at Kent Meridian celebrated Father's Day with new neighbors and a memorable meal!
What’s ‘backstage’ at this senior living community? A symphony of activity!

New residents find their cadence at Cadence at Kent-Meridian

Pipe relining is a less-invasive, less time-consuming way to address pipes that are clogged or breaking down. Because DrainPro does the work themselves, rather than sub-contracting out the work, they can pass those savings along to homeowners.
Kent plumbing company encourages home buyers to check their pipes

With the current highly competitive state of the housing market, many people… Continue reading

The Lenihan family - 2021 recipients of a new roof provided by the Guardian HALO project.
Local roofing company wants to cover the community with kindness

Since 2018 this business has been building roofs for those in need

Resident Lifestyle Director Laura Jenks has enjoyed working with volunteers Bob and Lynn LeGrande to develop the gardens at Cadence at Kent-Meridian. Find your cadence by volunteering too!
Volunteer spotlight: Growing roots at this Kent retirement community

This couple ‘found their cadence’ helping plant the gardens at Cadence at Kent-Meridian

Rob Iddins (right), managing partner of Iddins Law Group. Charles Cotugno Photo.
Compassion is key — Kent lawyers offer caring, helpful service in times of stress

A Personal Injury and Probate lawyer helps simplify complicated claims

AJ Williams, owner of the Balloon Love Shop, took the leap into business with with help of the Comcast RISE Program.
Small Business Owners Finding Support Through Special Grant Program

Starting a small business at any time can come with an enormous… Continue reading

That's no ordinary mirror on the wall in the Cadence at Kent-Meridian fitness studio. It's a high-tech fitness mirror where residents of the retirement community can connect to live workouts and on-demand classes while exercising alongside friends and family around the world!
The tech, talent and connectivity of modern senior wellness in Kent

When composing a wellness plan at your new retirement community, don’t forget MOVEMENT!

Christian Pearson, attorney at Iddins Law Group in Kent. Call 253-854-1244 or visit iddinslaw.com to request a complimentary phone consultation. Charles Cotugno Photo.
When accidents happen, you deserve an advocate

Personal injury lawyers help people navigate a complicated insurance system

Call 253-854-1244 or visit iddinslaw.com to request a complimentary phone consultation. Learn more at iddinslaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter. Charles Cotugno Photo.
Taking the anxiety out of probate and estate administration

The right lawyer will support your needs with compassion, clear communication and transparent fees

Chef Ray Canos is head chef at Cadence at Kent-Meridian, the retirement community opening soon in Kent, Washington.
Look for Encore Dining events showcasing Chef Ray’s talents

What happens when you combine a professional chef with a retirement home… Continue reading

Jeff Thungc, of JLT Web Solutions.