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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2024
For Information Contact:
Andy Williams

Spotlight on Certified Volunteer Advocates: Longtime Long-Term Care Professional Advocates for Residents


What started as a routine trip to the laundromat led to Andrea (Andi) Sadowski becoming a Certified Volunteer Advocate (CVA)—a rewarding pursuit that enables her to bolster the quality of life for residents of a South Jersey long-term care facility.

Originally from Minnesota, Andi was a registered nurse. She earned specialized credentials in rehabilitation and public health. She taught nursing up to the graduate school level. She was licensed as a long-term care administrator. All told, Andi devoted 40 years to long-term care before retiring.

In 2020, she and her husband relocated to Gloucester County, N.J. to be closer to their daughter. After her husband passed away, Andi was looking for meaningful volunteer projects.

Back to the laundromat: Andi and her daughter went there to wash a rug. While waiting, Andi picked up a newspaper and found an ad published by the New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) promoting the CVA program.

Call it kismet. Interest piqued, Andi called the number. After so many years as a staff member, she said, "I felt I would enjoy being on the other side of the table and having time to visit with residents."

CVAs fill a crucial role for the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO), proactively visiting nursing homes to help solve problems for residents and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect. When serious issues such as abuse, neglect or exploitation are identified, a full-time LTCO Investigator/Advocate may be assigned to investigate and resolve them.

Becoming a CVA is a straightforward process. Applicants receive 36 hours of in-depth, virtual and in-person training and take a certification exam. Once certified, applicants shadow experienced CVAs until they are ready for solo assignments visiting nursing homes near where they live. Each CVA receives ongoing guidance and support from a Regional Coordinator.

Andi is assigned to a medium-sized facility that provides long-term care, memory care, and short-term rehabilitation. The current administrator—the third in Andi's 18-month tenure—is her primary contact at the nursing home, and she appreciates his efforts to meet the residents' needs and keep up with the physical upkeep of the older building.

On a typical visit, Andi checks in with the Resident Council President and then meets with individual residents. The residents look forward to her visits, and Andi finds it rewarding to listen to their concerns and intervene when she can—helping a man navigate the process to obtain a hearing aid, for instance, or connecting a woman with the dietary supervisor to work out a menu substitution.

Andi gets to share happy occasions as well, such as the time she attended a couple's 65th wedding anniversary celebration. Being a part of the residents' lives is very rewarding, she said.

"I love when a resident's face lights up at my visit," Andi said. "When people ask about my advocacy, I tell them that I get as much or more from the visits than the residents do. It's great to add a little sunshine to their lives and to get all that sunshine returned to me."

The Certified Volunteer Advocate Program has about 150 Advocates, and many more are needed. If you would like to help foster a better quality of life for individuals living in nursing homes, please consider becoming a Certified Volunteer Advocate. Call 1-877-582-6995 to learn more.

About the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Office of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent state agency dedicated to the mission of advancing the rights, dignity, and self-determination of adults living in long-term care, including nursing homes, assisted living, and residential health care facilities. Learn more.


Last Updated: Tuesday, 02/20/24