Start Here: Volunteer Ombudsman Representatives

Volunteer Ombudsman Representatives (VORs) are among MIFA's most devoted volunteers. They are highly trained to advocate for residents of long-term care facilities across Shelby, Fayette, Tipton, and Lauderdale counties.

How Does It Work?

MIFA's Long-Term Care Ombudsman program advocates for residents of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care homes. Through regular visits to facilities by MIFA staff and specially trained volunteers, the program investigates and mediates complaints, monitors residents’ care and quality of life, and provides public education for clients and families.

The following Ombudsman duties are outlined in Title VII of the Older Americans Act:

  • Help resolve problems or complaints faced by people living in assisted living facilities or in long-term care facilities
  • Provide information to residents about long-term care services
  • Represent the interests of residents before various agencies to seek administrative, legal, and other remedies to protect residents
  • Provide education about resident rights and good care practices
  • Provide technical support for the development of resident and family councils
  • Advocate for changes to improve residents’ quality of life and care
  • Promote community involvement through volunteer opportunities
  • Address improper transfer and/or discharge of residents
  • Investigate allegations of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse in long-term care facilities
  • Provide information to the public on nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Address any resident's or family/legal representative's concern about the quality of life
  • Educate and inform consumers and the general public regarding issues related to long-term care 

Additional responsibilities include listening to residents' concerns and problems; problem-solving; reporting observations; supporting residents' rights, privacy, and confidentiality; and referring urgent concerns to the volunteer coordinator or district ombudsman.

By becoming a volunteer ombudsman representative (VOR), you can change the lives of people who live in these facilities. Many of these residents have no one to speak up for them or look out for them, making this population the most vulnerable in our society. Volunteers serve as resident advocates to ensure residents received the quality of care and quality of life they deserve.

Who Can Volunteer?

Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, have access to reliable transportation, and possess genuine care and concern for older adults. VORs may have family members and loved ones in a care facility; however, a VOR may not be currently working in a care facility.

VORs must complete a 36-hour training and certification process to begin. A one-year commitment is required, during which time volunteers must spend two to three hours per week with residents at their assigned facility. Training sessions are provided and continuing education is expected.

The most important requirements for VORs 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. Through this volunteer experience, VORs can expect to develop skills in communication, listening, relationship building, confidentiality, complaint resolution, and residents' rights.

How Do I Get Started?

When you are ready, complete the volunteer application online. Once your application has been processed, a member of our engagement team will be in touch to help you schedule your in-person training and your first meal delivery.

If have questions and would like to reach out, contact Marcie Lynne Williams at mwilliams@mifa.org or (901) 529-4521.