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Lifespan on the beat for Finger Lakes seniors

Brad Jones decided about a year ago to volunteer at a nursing home. Not that he needed more to do. A retired senior executive with Kodak, Jones has a number of irons in the fire from working as a part-time consultant to being active in local politics and environmental issues. A former town supervisor in his hometown of Italy, Yates County, Jones said he wanted to make a difference as an ombudsman.

He has, as one of 75 volunteers who advocate for residents in nursing homes and similar facilities in nine counties in the Rochester/Finger Lakes region through Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. Lifespan provides training and ongoing support for volunteers at 142 facilities throughout the region. The next training session to obtain the ombudsman state certification will take place in April. Jones encourages anyone with an interest to contact Lifespan, and now is a good time.

Jones and his fellow volunteers fulfill a crucial role. Ombudsmen, focused solely on the well-being of the residents, fill a gap, said Alana Russell, Lifespan ombudsman program director. Even the finest-run nursing homes benefit from volunteers who can help bridge communication gaps between residents and staff and facilitate solutions to problems that crop up, she said.

Ombudsmen are especially needed in New York, added Russell. The state has no minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes, so while certain standards must be met, those don’t dictate the number of staff members per resident.

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