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Nursing home advisory board seeks volunteers

Although the work of Donald Streb and his committee is scarcely noticed by most people, it’s of critical importance to older people in long-term care and their families.

Required by state law, the Nursing/Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee inspects and monitors 38 facilities in Henderson County that provide adult care, nursing care and family care. It's official charge is to "act as a liaison between nursing homes, residents, family members and the community, to educate the community on the aged and the facility and to provide the catalyst for community development."

The board can have up to 23 members yet month after month county commissioners struggle to find applicants and make appointments.
“Getting that number has been a real challenge and met with little success this past year,” Streb told commissioners last month. The board, which currently has 13 members, may be one of the hardest working volunteer organizations in the county.
The advisory committee’s responsibility “means a required 99 different and separate visits annually” to facilities, from small ones to large life care centers with more than 1,000 residents. “The higher the occupancy, the longer each visit lasts, as we make every attempt to talk to as many residents as possible in order to prepare the best and most accurate report,” Streb told commissioners.
Last year, the advisory board logged 5,448 miles, took 195 hours of ongoing education, made 426 separate nursing home visits, held 182 different meetings and spent 139 hours in other commitments.
“We work closely with the ombudsman and the Department of Social Services to coordinate our volunteer efforts,” Streb said. “This has helped improve conditions in some facilities as well as reward some facilities which are outstanding.” At Christmas the board also gave “a small gift bag to help supplement the rather small allowance they receive.”
Commissioners praised the committee’s work and suggested ways the county could find more volunteers.
“They have a lot of passion for the work that they do,” Commissioner Rebecca McCall said. “They do their work with professionalism, love and concern for the elderly of our community and they just deserve a lot of credit for having the commitment to do this work.”
“It seems to me the people that would have the most in interest in your success would be the relatives of people that are in these facilities,” Commissioner Bill Lapsley told the committee chairman.
Streb responded that getting names of family members would require a privacy release. In that case, Lapsley said, the advisory board could ask nursing home administrators to appeal to family members of patients to serve.
County Commission Chair Grady Hawkins said he hoped publicity about the need would stir up interest.
“We’re about 50 percent manned in this critical area and many of us have been involved with relatives that require this service and it’s hard,” he said. “It takes a special person to be able to do it, I can tell you that.”

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The Nursing Home Advisory Committee meets at 2 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at Interfaith Assistance Ministry. For an application call 697-4808. To download an application click here.