Veteran Kansas Ombudsman Bates Dyer
His official job title is Certified Volunteer Ombudsman. But what he actually does is solve problems for residents of Medicalodge of Leavenworth, a long-term care facility.
Bates Dyer, 72, received a letter eight years ago from AARP Kansas asking for volunteers who were interested in being long-term care ombudsmen for the state of Kansas.
He liked the idea of helping empower nursing home residents and their families by being their advocate and he wanted to learn more about the state's long-term care system so that he could assist his father-in-law who had Alzheimers.
"To me it's very satisfying to help people who can't help themselves," said Dyer.
A state-appointed long-term care ombudsman, Gilbert Cruz, oversees eight regional ombudsmen. The regional ombudsmen coordinate the work of the volunteers in their area, the majority of whom have been recruited through AARP Kansas.
During the past eight years, Dyer has helped more people than he can count. And his work isn't just with the nursing home residents. Often he assists family members who have issues or need information.
"I consider myself a problem solver," Dyer said. "I have a lot of experience in a lot of different areas—with veteran's benefits, taxes, working with state government agencies. I make it a point to know the details of what needs to be done and how to go about doing it."
Dyer retired from the U.S. Army as a full colonel in 1979 and ran a land development and building company in Leavenworth. These days he works as a Senior Tax Advisor at H & R Block. And, though long-term care ombudsmen are asked to volunteer only three hours each week, he usually puts in twice that amount of time, not just visiting residents at Medicalodge but also in working out problems with various agencies.
"I found out that one of the residents here (Medicalodge) was a veteran, but no one knew it because he couldn't communicate very well," said Dyer. "He wasn't getting all of the benefits he was entitled to. So I located his paperwork and helped him fill out the necessary forms. Now he gets $90 a month that he hadn't been receiving."
Dyer encourages anyone who is interested to find out more about the state long-term care ombudsman program.
AARP members throughout the state will periodically receive invitations, like the one Dyer received, asking them to attend an information session.
To date, more than 90 percent of the long-term care ombudsman in Kansas are AARP members who answered the call.
"We are always looking for qualified and interested volunteers to come to the aid of our ever-increasing population in need of long-term care," Dyer said.
What Does a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Do?
- Helps long-term care residents obtain the highest quality of life
- Helps long-term care staff meet the needs and concerns of those who use their facilities
- Provides information about the long-term care system
- Receives and investigates complaints and helps achieve equitable solutions
If you are interested in becoming a long-term care volunteer ombudsman, contact the State of Kansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office toll free at 1-877-662-8362 or email. Or contact the AARP Kansas State Office at 1-866-448-3619 or email.
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