Dottie Hull

Dottie Hull has been a Blair Senior Services, Inc. volunteer for the past 7 years.
Dottie started as a volunteer with Blair Senior Services, Inc. in the Ombudsman Program. Dottie stated, “After I retired as a Registered Nurse, one of my nurse friends asked me to go along with her to see what the program was about. I decided it was something I would like to do.”
Dottie helps with facility visits in Blair and Bedford Counties. Her duties include talking with the residents to make sure their needs are being met and about the care they are receiving. Dottie states, “I also look at the facilities and make sure they are clean, odor free, fire extinguishers are in place, and review the menus. I make sure the residents are being treated with the respect and care they deserve. If they have any concerns, we discuss them and then I bring those concerns to the Ombudsman, Jaime Rose.” Dottie volunteers usually one day a month in Blair County and one day a month in Bedford County, or as needed.
When asked what she likes the most about volunteering for the Ombudsman Program, “With my nursing background this keeps me busy. It gives me something to do and a way of still caring for people. My favorite thing is the people. The wonderful people I work with and the residents,” Dottie said.
Dottie stated there wasn’t any one memory in particular that was special, but the special feeling she gets from helping and being around the residents is what is so special and meaningful for her.
Dottie said she would encourage anyone to volunteer for this program, but especially any retired nurses. She states, “The nursing background just helps you to know what to look for I think. Anyone can learn, but it gives you a better understanding. I encourage anyone to try volunteering for this program. It is a great experience for you and helps people in sometimes a difficult situation.”
If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please call 814-296-6336. For volunteering with any of the other programs at Blair Senior Services, Inc., please call 814-946-1235.

Jaime Rose

Jaime Rose has been working for Blair Senior Services, Inc. for over 7 years. She went to school at Shippensburg University and worked in another county for two years in the Ombudsman Program and other programs. She moved back home after being hired at Blair Senior Services for a position in the Aging Waiver Program in April of 2011. In July of 2011, Jaime moved into the Ombudsman Program.
Jaime is the Blair County Long Term Care Ombudsman. In her position, Jaime visits 43 long term care facilities. The Ombudsman visits with residents to determine if their rights are being upheld, needs are met, and concerns have been resolved. “No problem or concern is too small! The Ombudsman will help to resolve the issue,” states Rose.
When asking Jaime what she liked most about her job she stated, “No two days are alike. So it makes it very interesting. I would have to say the best part is the people. The residents I get to meet have lived such diverse lives. Our team of people I work with and our volunteers. They are all so passionate about what we do and are awesome people.”
Jaime said her favorite event is the month of October when they have “Residents Rights Month”. She travels to different facilities and says, “I really like being able to interact with the residents at the facilities. One of my favorite activities to do with them is the resident bingo. It’s so enjoyable seeing them get involved, educated and having fun at the same time.”
Jaime stated that the Ombudsman Program is always in need of volunteers to help with visiting the facilities. “Without our volunteers, this program wouldn’t be so successful. They truly make a difference and I appreciate every one of them” she stated. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please call 814-296-6336.

Ombudsman: Your Front Line Advocate

Unanswered calls for help, improper medication administration, discharge or eviction without a proper notice, lack of respect for residents—these are examples of complaints that may be made by residents of nursing and other residential care facilities to state and local long-term care Ombudsmen. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is a consumer advocacy model intended to improve quality of care by helping residents of nursing homes and other residential care facilities resolve complaints about their care and rights. It was established as part of the Older Americans Act in 1978.

The word “Ombudsman” is a Swedish term that means citizen representative. The Blair County Ombudsman serves as an advocate for the rights of all residents in personal care homes, nursing homes/long term care facilities, domiciliary care homes and adult day centers. The Blair County Ombudsman serves 43 facilities within Blair County that includes a total of 2,320 beds within the homes.

Jaime Rose is the Blair County Long Term Care Ombudsman.  She states, “The Ombudsman Program’s vision statement is ‘Advocate for those who can’t, support those who can, and ensure all long-term care consumers live with dignity and respect.’  I am responsible for resolving the problems of residents of nursing homes and residential care facilities. The Ombudsman provides an avenue for conflict resolution that may be otherwise unavailable to all residents.  We strive to ensure dignity, choice and quality of life for all individuals in long term care.  We can be their voice.  No problem or concern is too small. Complaints can include: improper food temperatures, daily routine times, missing belongings or problems with staff or other residents. The Ombudsman will help to resolve the issue with the resident’s consent to pursue the complaint or concern.”

A key to the Ombudsman function is regular facility and resident visitation by the Ombudsman and volunteer Ombudsmen. The Ombudsman Program will have unannounced quarterly visits to each facility. This alone helps to ensure quality of living.

Through their visits, Ombudsmen can act as an impartial third-party regarding quality of care and resident rights issues. Their interactions and familiarity with residents can provide a working relationship between residents and staff members. This can benefit both parties to ensure best practices. (Although, we cannot comment to staff without the consent of the residents). Their visits to facilities may also act as a deterrent to issues negatively affecting the quality of care and the lives of residents and prevent the need for costly interventions by state officials later.

Ombudsman availability in facilities can assist residents and family members in knowing the complaint process, how and when to report concerns about quality of care, and making reports promptly.

Ombudsmen stress the importance of their role as representatives of the community in facilities and the personal connection that they have with residents. Some describe the visible presence of Ombudsmen as crucial in assisting older people who are too frail or afraid to draw attention to problems with their care. Because many nursing home residents do not have informal support systems or families and friends who visit regularly, an independent advocate can play a critical role in helping residents with their care and rights.

Although investigation and resolution of complaints are their primary responsibilities, Ombudsmen also have other roles, such as educating residents and families about resident rights and acting as mediators between residents, facility staff and government agencies.  They may also assist residents who are making the transition if their facility closes and ensuring they are comfortable in their new home.

“Our job is to empower the residents to help themselves. We do a lot of education and training with the residents on their rights at the facilities.  An example is the Resident Rights Bingo we organize. The residents come to a bingo game we have at their facility that highlights their rights and assists to educate them.  They can win prizes just like in regular bingo games. This activity is received quite well with the residents of the different facilities and is a wonderful tool in educating them of their rights,” states Jaime Rose.

Along with the paid Ombudsman, the program relies heavily on volunteers.  Rose says, “Our program is unique because we have 9 volunteers that help us.  These volunteers help with visits to the facility, do paperwork and will report back when they notice something is wrong.  We could not do all that we do in this program without the help and dedication of these great volunteers.”

Another part of the Ombudsman Program is the PEER Program.  PEER stands for “Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Resident.”  A PEER is a long term care resident who is trained to advocate for themselves to improve the quality of their own lives and the home they live in.

The program begins with a training course during which residents learn about the laws, licensing and regulations governing nursing homes and assisted living residences both in the state and nationally.  It also teaches resolution steps and how to present their issues to the administration of a facility, the function of the Ombudsman, and more.

“Among the responsibilities of the PEER is to orient new residents to the facility, learn the proper personnel to contact for particular concerns, letting people know their rights, and being their support system,” explained Rose.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the Ombudsman Program or perhaps would be interested in volunteering for the program, please contact Jaime Rose at 814-296-6336.