Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) –For more than 50 years Fort Wayne’s Ombudsman program has been helping connect residents in assisted living facilities and nursing home residents to resources. “We’re mandated to be here through the older Americans Act and our goal is to make sure that residents in nursing homes have the best possible care,” said Long Term Care Ombudsman Executive Director Aisha Arrington.
Headquartered in Fort Wayne since 1965, the Long Term Care Ombudsman program covers nine counties in Northeast Indiana. It is state and federally funded and its services are free and confidential. “We’re taking 100 calls a month from either residents or family members who are calling us saying hey we’re having programs and need help,” said Arrington. “They are calling and saying what are my mom and dad’s rights while they’re in a nursing home? Our job is to coach them through these situations and make sure that we’re giving them information.”
The Ombudsman program also has a pajama drive that is entering its eighth year. “We collect new pajamas and gowns, any size, any gender and then we hand deliver those to folks in nursing homes,” said Arrington. “It’s a way that we serve the community but it’s also a way to softly introduce ourselves to residents and families who may need our help and for the community to learn a little bit more about us and create a buzz about the work that we’re doing.”
Karen Taritas is one of many senior citizens who has received free pajamas. “This is just one of the things that they do,” said Taritas. As President of the Lamplight Inn’s Assisted Living Residents Council, Taritas helps connect her fellow Lamplighters to the Ombudsman. “I’ve had them come in and they’ve talked individually to residents regarding their individual concerns such as matters like social security. They’ve also talked about smaller things that people are concerned with in their lives in aging and outside resources that they may not know are available.”
The Ombudsman program is looking for volunteers. For more information on how you can help with the pajama drive and other projects go to the Long Term Care Ombudsman website or call 260-469-3161 or toll free 866-523-5362.