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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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Certified Volunteer Advocate Program

group The New Jersey Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) provides a Certified Volunteer Advocate Program that gives citizens an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living in nursing homes in New Jersey.

The LTCO is dedicated to advancing the rights, dignity, and self-determination of adults living in long-term care. A primary function of the LTCO is to investigate and resolve complaints made by long-term residents or by others on their behalf.

Certified Volunteer Advocates (CVAs) are an essential part of the LTCO team, proactively visiting nursing homes to help solve problems for residents and ensure they are being treated with dignity and respect.

Each prospective Volunteer Advocate undergoes 36 hours of in-depth, virtual training and is required to pass a certification exam to participate in the program.

Then, after working with a more experienced volunteer for approximately two weeks, the CVA is assigned to a nursing facility close to home. Although Volunteer Advocates can make their own hours, they are required to visit their assigned facility and speak to residents for at least four hours per week.

The types of problems that CVAs typically encounter include: failure to respond to call bells; inadequate or unappetizing food; hygiene problems; lack of activities; and missing or stolen personal belongings, such as clothing, dentures and eye glasses.

If a CVA identifies serious issues, such as abuse, neglect or exploitation, a full-time Investigator/Advocate from the LTCO may be assigned to investigate and resolve them.

The Certified Volunteer Advocate Program currently 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.

Training Requirements

Volunteers must complete a 36-hour virtual training program to become a Certified Volunteer Advocate. The training curriculum was developed by UMDNJ-School of Medicine and Rutgers School of Social Work and is modeled after the National Ombudsman Resource Center curriculum.

Training topics include:

Overview of the Volunteer Advocate Program
Communication Skills
Demographics of the Elderly Population
Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation
Medication and the Elderly
Normal & Abnormal Conditions of Aging
Residents’ Rights
Social, Financial, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Long-Term Care Facilities
The Long-Term Care Setting
The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Complaint Process
Visiting a Long-Term Care Facility

The Supervisor of Field Operations manages the Volunteer Advocate Program at the state level while seven Regional Coordinators manage the program at the county level. For additional information about the program, please contact the Regional Coordinator for your county.

Supervisor, Field Operations, Volunteer Advocate Program
Jeffrey Findlay 609-954-1512
North 1
Sussex, Passaic, Bergen and Hudson
Vernon Cooper
North 2
Warren, Morris and Essex
Eileen Comerford
Central 1
Hunterdon, Somerset, Union
Meg Silverman
Central 2
Mercer and Middlesex
June Mahon
Monmouth and Ocean
Sharon Brenner Cadalzo
South 1
Burlington, Camden and Gloucester
Janet Khanlian
South 2
Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May
Sonal Joshi

Last Updated: Friday, 06/07/24