SUNBURY - Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging is actively seeking dedicated volunteers for its ombudsman program.

According to the agency, approximately six out of 10 nursing home residents never receive a visitor. That sobering statistic is just one reason the agency is reaching out to the community and asking them to consider becoming involved in the program.

An ombudsman is a citizen advocate. With free, specialized training, volunteers could be the visitor long-term care consumers need. Volunteer ombudsmen make monthly, unannounced visits to the long-term care facilities in Northumberland County. They are not inspectors, regulators or surveyors - their purpose is to connect with the consumers, educate them about their rights and resources available to them and help the residents achieve the best possible quality of life and care.

Ombudsmen come from all walks of life and have varied backgrounds. Anyone over the age of 18 and has some time to give is welcomed by the agency. Those who are compassionate, patient and interested in making a real difference in the life of a resident in a long-term care facility are welcome. Anyone interested in giving back to those who blazed the trail for them is perfect to be a volunteer ombudsman.

Contact the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging for more information and addition details. Volunteers will be asked to participate in a background check and a basic orientation, then scheduled for their free day of training. After that, the agency will work to help the ombudsman become more comfortable and confident in conducting facility visits.

With 28 long-term care facilities in Northumberland County, there is a tremendous need for additional ombudsmen. The next training is scheduled to be conducted in Northumberland County on Wednesday Aug. 7.

If interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer ombudsman, contact the Northumberland County Area Agency on Aging at 495-2395 or (877) 622-2251 and ask to speak with Dianne Garancosky.