Ombudsman Spotlight

Photograh of Sandra Walker

How long have you been an ombudsman?  I have been an Ombudsman with the Region 10-Area Agency on Aging since June of 2014 – nine years.

What made you want to become an ombudsman?

Throughout my career I have always enjoyed working with older adults. I was exposed to the Ombudsman program through my work, first as a floor nurse and then as the social services director in a skilled nursing facility. I felt that I had the affinity to be a good representative of the program and my years working in long term care had provided me with an understanding of the complexities surrounding life in a nursing home.

What surprised you most about being an ombudsman?

I have introduced the program to hundreds of patients and their families over the years. In that time, I’ve met only seven individuals who knew what an Ombudsman is and does. They included people previously assisted by the program, a retired nurse and a professor of social work. There is much education to be done to bring about an awareness of this vital program.

What do you most enjoy about being an ombudsman?

The wide variety of concerns that I’m presented with each day. I never know what issues I will be called on to help residents represent and solve. I enjoy assisting individuals and supporting their goals through resources that they weren’t aware of. I’m always impressed by the wealth of knowledge, grace, and strength of the people I am privileged to assist. We are all different and yet the same. Each of us values our dignity, autonomy and right to self-determination. Each of us has a lifetime of experiences that make us unique in our own right.

Tell us 2-3 positive changes you are working to achieve in the communities that you serve.

My effort to provide education and information about the Ombudsman program will be ongoing. It is vitally important that residents are aware of their rights and understand that they can make their problems known without fear of reprisal. Promoting active resident and family councils allows residents to voice needs and concerns which can affect transformation systemically in their home and quality of life for all. Individualized person-centered care is the unparalleled means for people in long term care to thrive and achieve their best life.

Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you in your work as an advocate?

“Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind by being kind, considerate, forgiving and compassionate at all times, in all places, and under all conditions, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give.” David Hawkins

View Archives