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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Ombudsman Program

The AoA Long-Term Ombudsman Program advocates for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, assisted living facilities and similar adult care facilities. Each state has an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, headed by a full-time state ombudsman. Thousands of local ombudsman staff and volunteers work in hundreds of communities throughout the country as part of the statewide ombudsman programs, assisting residents and their families and providing a voice for those unable to speak for themselves. For more information, visit the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Marion Hill, Missouri – “An Advocate to the Very End”

Marion has been an Ombudsman in a long-term care facility since 1998. Several years ago a homeless man became a resident. Marion enjoyed her weekly visits with him, and truly worked hard to help the home meet his needs for clothes, shoes and toiletries. After a few months, he became very ill. He had no family that could be found and Marion was deeply concerned about his final arrangements. She worried what would happen to him in his final resting place. She worked with a local funeral home to see that something honorable could be done. When the man died she attended his graveside service, which she helped to plan. She checked on his grave to make sure that they erected a marker and even asked them to put more sod on top of his grave. She was his advocate to the very end.

Submitted by Regional Ombudsman Coordinator, Warrensburg, Missouri

Ombudsmen of Centralina Region, North Carolina

For over 19 years, the volunteer Ombudsmen have worked to produce a county based resident rights celebration that brings residents into the community for a celebration of their role as community members. There are local dignitaries, including mayors, Sherriff, police, fire chief and members of the state and federal legislators at most of these events. There is food, fun and fellowship too. The volunteers contribute their time and money to ensure the success of each event. In 2010, all nine counties enjoyed a celebration with the help of the volunteers. One county, Iredell, worked with the local Wal-Mart to get donations of Wii machines for all the nursing homes. A resident rights cookbook was developed, filled with recipes from last year’s participant’s contributions. Each county takes the theme and asks the residents to create and design a table center piece or nametag that works in their thoughts about the rights. This is a grand tradition and the paid Ombudsman staff assist with templates for invitations, certificates, and other event logistics. I am including a little video we made about these events.

Submitted by Elder Rights Coordinator, Centralina Area Agency on Aging

Colene Ankerholz, Kansas – “First-Hand Experience”

Colene Ankerholz Family members and residents find Colene understanding and easy to relate to, perhaps because she has been through similar challenges, and is persistence and patience in addressing resident concerns. She is willing to go the distance for and with residents. Colene receives the Presidential Pin each year for the considerable hours she dedicates in her role as Ombudsman.

For nearly a decade, Colene has been a dependable, attentive advocate for residents. She has more longevity with the facility than most of the staff and residents. She is respected by residents, family and staff for the consistent, able advocacy she provides. After years of advocating with the ombudsman program she remains energized by the work she does. Lucky for the residents and lucky for long-term care!

Submitted by Kansas Advocates for Better Care, Consumer Advocacy Group

Carol Pruette, Kansas – “Raising Money for Ombudsman Services”

Carol is a Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency (NHOA) board member. In 2010, she volunteered to chair NHOA's biggest fundraiser, the Decorators' Showcase. This Showcase was special to her as it featured her former home of 20 years, GlenLary Farm. Carol and her husband had a close relationship with the new owners as they continued to operate their own horse farm business at GlenLary. Carol spent over four months of her time preparing the house for the Showcase, supervising while the decorators' worked, communicating with the owners about their preferences, and getting the house back in order after the event was over. With Carol's help, NHOA was able to raise over $40,000 for ombudsman services.

Submitted by Kansas Advocates for Better Care Consumer Advocacy Group

Phyllis Whitaker, New York – “21 Years as a Certified Volunteer Ombudsman”

Phyllis WhitakerPhyllis took the certification training when she was still working full time and visited the same adult home almost every week for all 21 years, assisting many residents with their concerns. She is a person who has truly made a difference in the lives of people in her adult home.

Submitted by Steuben County Ombudsman Program, New York

Colonel Allan J. Perry, TX– “2010 United Way Volunteer of the Year”

Colonel Allan J. PerryIn 2010, Colonel Perry's thirty years experience as a Registered Nurse, E.D. of a retirement community, numerous civic roles and volunteer Ombudsman advocacy, brought him recognition from the United Way of San Antonio Volunteer of the Year Awards program. His expertise in addressing military retired aging issues, have provided a unique resource to our program and community; in 2010 his expert knowledge helped resolve a veteran's issue.

Submitted by Bexar AAA Ombudsman Program, San Antonio, Texas

Amy Chin, California – “Excellent Writing and Language Skills are Appreciated”

As a former teacher, Amy's excellent writing and language skills make her an ideal person to review every case, ensuring that the case meets program standards before final closure and submission for filing. Amy reviews approximately 1,600 cases each year. Her remarkable work contributes to the standards of excellence to which our local program aspires.

Submitted by Ombudsman Services of San Mateo County,California

Eleanor Michelson, Minnesota – “Doing So Much - For So Many - For So Long”

Eleanor Michelson For nearly 19 years, Eleanor Michelson has been making a significant and positive impact in the lives of residents at a local Health Care Center, where she has served as a Volunteer Advocate. Last year Eleanor logged over 200 hours of volunteer time and about 800 resident visits.

One of her many strengths is “her ability to be persistent in resolving concerns - and yet at the same time doing so in a manner that does not make the staff defensive.” Eleanor is known to have a “can do” spirit and a “let’s get it done” attitude.

Eleanor just coordinated a “Get to Know Me” project where she organized 7 community volunteers to visit almost 60 residents and collect life histories. Each life story is featured on a bulletin board and has been compiled into a binder for all to read and enjoy. This project has helped caregivers and residents create an environment of mutual respect and honor of each individual.

Submitted by Office of Ombudsman for Long Term Care, Minnesota

Jane Giblin, Ohio – “A consistent and Determined Presence”

Jane Giblin After 40 years of teaching school, Jane sought a different way to get involved in her community. Jane contributes her enthusiasm for the Ombudsman role and uses her strong presentation skills to reach out to community groups and health fair events. In addition to her volunteer activities at a local senior center and as an Ombudsman, Jane is the primary advocate for her mother who lives in a local assisted living community. Throughout life's ups and downs in the past several years, Jane has remained a constant source of support to residents and to the Ombudsman team.

Jane also volunteers for the Friends of the Public Library; stocks shelves at “Crayons to Computers,” and works in the office at an Aquatic Center.

Submitted by Ohio Department of Aging, Elder Rights Division

Dorothy Huff, Ohio – “Visited 2425 Residents in Two Nursing Homes”

Dorothy has been a Long Term Care Ombudsman Volunteer for 11 years. She first heard about the Ombudsman Program through AARP and decided to give it a try. We are certainly glad she did! Since she first became certified in 2000, Dorothy has visited 2425 residents in the 2 nursing facilities she visits, and donated more than 247 hours of advocacy. Dorothy visits her facilities on a regular basis and works hard in assisting Ombudsman staff with handling complaints and conducting follow-up visits.

Submitted by Ohio Department of Aging, Elder Rights Division

Maxine (Micki) Horst, Ohio – “Helping to Bring about Culture Change in Long Term Care”

Maxine (Micki) Horst Micki consistently advocates for residents in the nursing home. She also energetically participates in the Ohio Person Centered Care Coalition whose mission is to influence and support transformational culture change in long- term care environments. Micki came to the Ombudsman Program from Michigan where she was involved with the Michigan Dementia Program, Meals on Wheels and other programs serving older and disabled adults.

Submitted by Ohio Department of Aging, Elder Rights Division

Dan Suvak, Ohio – “Puts a Smile on The Face of Nursing Home Residents”

Dan has been assisting in resolving complaints since 2000. During this time, Dan has consistently made regular visits to the nursing home, donated more than 272 hours visiting, educating and helping residents, and supported over 1372 persons who reside in the home. His regular presence in the nursing home is a comfort to residents who have come to know that Dan will be there whenever they need assistance and assure them a better quality of life.

Submitted by Ohio Department of Aging, Elder Rights Division

Norma Kubus, Ohio– “Letting Families Know There is an Advocate Helps”

Norma Kubus Norma has been a volunteer Ombudsman for 11 years. What motivates her to keep volunteering and going back to her facility each week? “It’s fun.” “I get to know people”. “I really enjoy it”. “It gives you a very nice feeling when one of the residents calls you by name and asks where you’ve been”. “You’ve brought some sunshine to their life”. “When you leave, you feel so much better that you’ve made someone smile”.

Norma has been involved in all different types of advocacy at her facility. She has assisted the fire department in making sure the residents with vents were with-in fire safety code, assisting the resident council meetings and food council continues to meet monthly.

Submitted by Ohio Department of Aging, Elder Rights Division

Veda Wenrick, Virginia – “A Shining Star in our Program”

Veda is a true patient advocate and valuable resource for residents, their families and the long-term care facility Care staff! As one staff member wrote, “Mrs. Wenrick is so much more than her job description entails……she is part of the… Family.” She exemplifies the facility’s motto - “Service Above Self.” “Veda has the tenacity of a lion, the compassion of a mother bear and the nobility of an eagle.”

Submitted by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia

Dave Nelson, Wisconsin – “Gives a Voice to Spanish Speaking Elderly”

Dave drove over forty miles for close to 9 years to catch-up with old friends and to update new residents how the Volunteer Ombudsman program can work for them.

He was also part of an initial volunteers group that accepted the challenge of working in one of the State's largest nursing facilities, which was in the mist of notoriety. There he utilized his Spanish speaking skills, giving another voice to a growing Hispanic population. He has laid a foundation of trust and confidence for the program, both, hard-to- establish assets that will allow a new volunteer a warm, welcoming transition. He only hopes that someday, someone will do the same for him. Dave was nominated for the Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Award.

Submitted by Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care

Beverly (Bev) Laufenberg, Wisconsin – “Eyes and Ears” for the Ombudsman Program

Beverly (Bev) LaufenbergBev has been a dedicated Advocate for 17years, and received the 2011 Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Program Award. She makes weekly unannounced visits to an assigned nursing home spending 2-3 hours each visit listening to the residents, talking with residents to empower them to speak up for themselves, reminding them of their right’s and letting them know that she will be their voice when need be. During her visits she is the “eyes and ears” for the Regional Ombudsman and together with the Volunteer Coordinator…they make a formidable team of advocates for the residents. Bev regularly attends the resident council meetings and includes those meeting minutes in her monthly reports to the Board on Aging.

Bev also volunteers for the Sparta Area Cancer Support group and for her local ecumenical food pantry. She is a life member of Eastern Star, and stays very active in her United Methodist Women Church circles.

Submitted by Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care

Xandy Kloeckl – “A Consistent Presence in a Sea of Change”

Xandy Kloeckl Xandy became a volunteer Ombudsman after retiring as a lifelong County Social Worker. Although it requires lots of driving, she makes weekly visits to a nursing home that experienced continual staff turnover, resulting in inconsistent care, constant upheaval and a diminished quality of life for the residents. In addition to addressing individual resident issues, she has discovered problems that have initiated system policy changes, such as: staff coercing residents to contribute to fund-raisers or buy beauty products from staff, staff helping themselves to candy in residents’ rooms, improved housekeeping-particularly in bathrooms, and conducting more orderly monthly Resident Council meetings.

While experiencing her own personal health setbacks, Xandy continues her work as a Volunteer Ombudsman. She feels that advocating for resident’s rights is one of the most important causes she can pursue as a volunteer.

Submitted by Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care

Bob Baumeister, Delaware – “Improving the Quality of Life for Nursing Home Residents in His Community”

Bob “wanted to do something” after retiring from the IRS and moving to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 1998. He found that “something” as a Volunteer Ombudsman with Delaware’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

“I visit veterans of World War II and Korea at a nursing home in my community about two to three hours a week, says. Bob. “We have a small group that goes to the American Legion or VFW once a week. It gets them out and is enjoyable. We have become friends. They have fantastic stories to tell. Occasionally they may have personal problems that I may be able to resolve.”

Submitted by Delaware State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Alice Williams, Delaware – “Someone Who Cares and Who is Not Afraid to Speak Up.”

Alice, a retired nurse, has been a Volunteer Ombudsman since 1996. Alice spends several hours a week visiting a nursing home in her community. “I help residents in many small ways such as putting on their glasses and reading to them. Residents also want you to sit and talk with them and bring back their memories,” she says. Alice also helped a woman overcome her fear of cataract surgery, enabling her to read her bible again and she obtained a special cup to help a resident who had difficulty drinking from Styrofoam cups.

Submitted by Delaware Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Anne Manning and Jim Evans, Florida – “Two Volunteers Go Above and Beyond”

Anne Manning Ann and Jim will go anywhere, any time to alleviate and resolve the concerns of residents in long-term care facilities. “Never have I met volunteers with such a passion and dedication for the elderly. And, how can I praise one and not both of them when each draws his or her strength and commitment from the shared values and mission of the Council to which they have pledged themselves,” stated the Ombudsman Manager.

Anne currently serves as the Council’s Chair, a function she has performed many times in her 12-year tenure with the Ombudsman Program. Even with her own personal hardships, she refuses to give up and continues to provide the Council with her wisdom and grace and provide residents with her tenacious (but always disarmingly friendly) determination to resolve and correct facility practices that impinge on their rights.

Jim, in his nearly 11 years of service, has always been a pillar of strength and wisdom for the Council. His huge heart has a permanent place in it reserved for the elderly. In spite of the oil spill that wreaked havoc on his business ventures last year, he still found time to reach out and help the elderly – lending his voice, his clear reasoning, his extensive knowledge, and his passionate persuasion to their cause.

Submitted by the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Charlotte Poss, Florida – “An Advocate for Residents”

Charlotte has been a certified and active Ombudsman volunteer since 2005. Seeing her mother-in-law mistreated in a facility was the spark that compelled her to become an Ombudsman. With her professional experience as a paralegal tribal court advocate, it is no surprise at her natural ability to advocate for long-term care facility residents. Given her previous employment, she recognizes the importance of being a voice for those living in long-term care facilities that may not be able to speak up for themselves.

Between responding to resident concerns, Charlotte manages to find time to write and submit articles to local publications, describing her volunteer experiences and urging others to become a volunteer ombudsman. For her commitment and work on behalf of Florida’s most vulnerable population, Charlotte was nominated to receive the 2010 Ombudsman of the Year award.

Submitted by the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Gloria Peach, Kentucky – “the Georgia Peach”

Gloria has been a certified volunteer Ombudsman for 10 years. She is assigned to one of the largest nursing homes in the area (housing 180 beds), and she visits regularly, sometimes spending the whole day in order to see as many people as possible and observe the care residents receive during different times of the day. As a retired nurse, Gloria has a wealth of knowledge that makes her aware of certain issues that those without a medical background might not be aware of.

As Gloria visits, she gets to know residents and builds a relationship with them. Many of the residents affectionately refer to her as “Georgia Peach.” The residents know they can trust Gloria and they feel comfortable telling her the complaints they have. Gloria is sometimes the only person to assist residents with their problems. Whatever the complaint, she persistently advocates on behalf of residents until a change occurs that improves their quality of life.

Submitted by Barren River Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Kentucky

Last Modified: 7/25/2016