Volunteers speak out for most vulnerable

Live United 2010 MIAMI“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members,” said Mahatma Ghandi.

That’s why United Way of Williamson County collaborates with partners such as the Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency (MCHRA) Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to advocate for seniors and other residents at long-term care facilities.

Through this program, volunteers regularly visit local long-term care and assisted living facilities and observe even the smallest details that could affect a resident’s health or safety. Volunteers get to know to know the residents while making sure the residents’ needs are being met and their rights are being protected.

“We have numbers for them to call for abuse or neglect, but they often don’t see things as neglect for themselves,” said Alys, who has volunteered as an Ombudsman representative for nearly 18 years.

Recently, a resident at one local facility approached Alys to tell her that she hadn’t received her spending money from her Social Security check. The residential facility manages access to all residents’ Social Security money, and of that money, each resident is entitled to receive $50 for miscellaneous spending after their living expenses are deducted.

“It’s a small amount, but it’s big to them,” said Alys. “Without that, they don’t have money to even buy a Coke, or get their hair done, or anything.”

After speaking with others, Alys realized dozens of residents were still waiting to receive their money. She and an MCHRA staff member made some inquiries and were able to find the problem’s origin and come up with a workable solution so the residents didn’t have to wait any longer to receive their money.

None of this would have been possible if the resident hadn’t felt comfortable enough to tell Alys about the problem.

“It’s so important for us to get acquainted well enough so that they know we’re on their side and they’re comfortable speaking with us,” said Alys.

When an individual’s health begins to deteriorate and they must rely on others for their care, they often have friends and family that make sure their loved one’s health, safety, and dignity are protected.

But that’s not always the case.

However, thanks to programs such as MCHRA’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, a United Way of Williamson County Health partner, our community’s most vulnerable individuals have someone ready to speak out for them, protecting their physical and emotional safety and protecting their basic rights.

Learn more about how United Way of Williamson County works to protect the community’s most vulnerable.

Sep 12, 2017 | Senior Citizens