Being Their VOYCE
I often take my time visiting residents when I volunteer as an ombudsman. Even after a tiring 12-hour shift at work, I make sure that I am there to follow up on a resident and assure them that I will be their VOYCE. On one visit, I went directly to see a man who had expressed during a previous visit that he wanted to transition to hospice care. When I entered his room, I noticed his labored breathing. I asked him multiple times if he was okay, only to realize he could barely speak to me or voice his concerns. I immediately checked in with the medical technician, who couldn't provide me with much information. I decided to speak with the administrator to determine if he had successfully transitioned to hospice care. My primary concern was for the resident's well-being; I wanted to make sure that caregivers were attending to his comfort.
End of Life Care
When I explained the resident's needs to the administrator, she assured me that I would receive updates on his condition. Simply by being at the right place at the right time, I made sure that the resident was being well cared for and that his needs were being met.
When I returned to the resident's room, I heard that his breathing had improved slightly. Although I had other residents to visit that day, I decided to spend the remainder of my time with him and make him feel as comfortable as I could. I sat by him and assured him that his needs were my priority. I reminded him how I am his VOYCE. We held hands. Since he was barely able to speak, I asked him to squeeze my hand if he felt better and cared for...he slowly squeezed my hand in response.
An Emotional Journey
Although his needs were not too much, I was there to be his VOYCE and reassure him that we are there to represent him and to have his back. Being an ombudsman is an emotional journey sometimes. We find ourselves in situations where we cannot physically help; however, just assuring residents that we are there to speak on their behalf can make a huge difference in their lives during those times. Even on those busy days after a long work shift, just putting a resident at ease or seeing a smile makes being an ombudsman a worthwhile effort.
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