What is I CARE?
I CARE is a regional long-term care ombudsman program that serves 12 central Illinois counties (Cass, Christian, Greene, Jersey, Logan, Mason, Macoupin, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Sangamon, Scott). Local staff and volunteers advocate for resident rights on behalf of nearly 8,000 residents in 139 long-term care facilities. Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, group homes, supportive living and assisted living facilities. The Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland is the sponsor agency for I CARE.
What is the Ombudsman Program?
The Older Americans Act is a federal law that mandates the creation of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in every state. The Illinois ombudsman program was created in the early 1970’s by The IL Nursing Home Care Act, which protects the rights of nursing home residents. Currently, there are thirteen regional ombudsman programs throughout the State of Illinois that work under the auspices of the Illinois Department of Aging. The ombudsman program assures residents receive quality care and a dignity of life at the highest practical level. Certified ombudsman visit residents in long-term care facilities on a regular basis to:
- Inform residents of their rights
- Follow up on concerns
- Investigate and resolve complaints
Bill of Rights for Long-term Care Residents
- Entitled to voice grievances without fear of reprisal.
- Entitled to the assurance that they can exercise their rights as a resident and as a citizen.
- Entitled to be free from mental and physical abuse, and free from chemical and physical restraints.
- Entitled to be discharged or transferred only for medical reasons, their own welfare, nonpayment, or facility closure.
- Entitled to associate and communicate privately with persons of their choice.
- Entitled to participate in social, religious and community activities.
- Entitled access to their personal and medical records, to be informed about their medical condition, to participate in planning their care and treatment.
- Entitled to manage their personal financial affairs.
- Entitled the option of keeping and using personal belongings as space permits.
- Entitled to share a room with one’s spouse.
I CARE Volunteer Advocates
I CARE volunteers are trained ombudsmen who visit long-term care facilities on a monthly basis. Volunteers listen to resident’s concerns and advocate on behalf of the resident, with their permission. Volunteer ombudsmen are required to report to their supervising ombudsman, who will direct them in their advocacy.
The first step to becoming a volunteer Ombudsman with I CARE is to complete Level 1 training. Additional training and mentoring requirements will be explained in detail during the Level 1 Training. Throughout the training process, you will have the opportunity to decide if becoming an Ombudsman is a good fit for you. We also assess potential volunteers to see if they are a good fit for our program.
What is the commitment, and how often do I visit?
We ask for a one or two year commitment. This enables the volunteer and resident to get to know each other, and the volunteer gains valuable experience as an Ombudsman. Volunteers are required to visit residents at the facility at least 1 time per month. If there is a month where volunteers are unable to visit, just let your Community Ombudsman know and they will do the visit for you.
What experience and skills are needed?
The most important requirements are compassion, respect for older adults, and common sense. We provide the training needed to enable volunteers to help residents know their rights.
How to Contact Us
If you or someone you know is interested in a volunteer opportunity with the ICARE program, please contact us at the number listed at the top of the page or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your interest in advocating for residents who live in long-term care facilities. We look forward to working with you.