Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, visitation to NJ long-term care facilities has been severely restricted. The NJ Department of Health has issued guidance that allows LTC residents to have limited visitation in very specific circumstances. In addition, the NJ DOH has issued visitation guidance for the holiday season. General visitation and testing guidance was issued on October 20, 2020. (See page 22.) Holiday visitation guidance was issued on November 16, 2020. If If you have questions or concerns about visiting long-term care facilities, contact the NJ LTCO.
The New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Volunteer Advocate Program provides citizens with an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living in nursing homes in New Jersey.
The primary function of the LTCO is to advocate for people living in long-term care facilities by investigating and resolving complaints made by them or by others on their behalf.
Volunteer Advocates are an essential part of the LTCO team. They are an extension of the Office of the Long-Term Ombudsman.
The Volunteer Advocate’s role is to solve problems for the resident and to ensure that all residents are being treated with dignity and respect.
Each Volunteer Advocate undergoes 32 hours of extensive and in-depth training and is required to pass a certification exam in order to participate in the program.
Then, after shadowing a more experienced volunteer for two weeks, the Volunteer Advocate is assigned to a nursing facility close to home. Although Volunteer Advocates can make their own hours, they are required to visit their assigned facility and speak to residents for at least four hours per week.
The types of problems that Volunteer Advocates typically encounter include: lack of staff responsiveness; failure to respond to call bells; inadequate or unappetizing food; hygiene problems; lack of activities; and missing or stolen personal belongings, such as clothing, dentures and eye glasses.
If a Volunteer Advocate identifies serious issues, such as abuse, neglect or exploitation, a full-time investigator/advocate from the LTCO may be assigned to investigate and resolve that concern.
While the Volunteer Advocate Program currently has about 220+ volunteers, many more are needed. We need more volunteers to care and advocate for nursing home residents, keeping them independent, healthy and able to live their lives out with dignity.
If you are interested in having a direct impact on the lives of vulnerable New Jersey citizens living in nursing homes, please consider becoming a Volunteer Advocate. For more information, contact the Volunteer Advocate Program at 609-826-5053 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Volunteer Spotlight
Volunteers must complete a 32 hour training program to become a certified Volunteer Advocate. The training curriculum was developed by UMDNJ-School of Medicine and Rutgers School of Social Work and is modeled after the National Ombudsman Resource Center curriculum. The training program and training manual were recently updated to reflect industry changes, trends, and new legislation. Intensive classroom instruction and additional on-site orientation is conducted by each Regional Volunteer Program Coordinator.
Training topics include:
Over the past year, our Volunteer Advocates have donated approximately 45,000+ hours in nursing homes, visiting elderly residents and advocating for their rights. Our Advocates had approximately 72,000+ one-to-one encounters with residents of nursing homes, listening to their concerns and resolving issues to the satisfaction of the resident and their families.