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Consumer Voice 2016 Conference

April 2, 2018

Volunteer Retention and Recognition

In 2016, 7,331 certified volunteer Ombudsman program representatives contributed 609,843 hours of service to Ombudsman programs across in the country (according to the NORS data). The Independent Sector determined the estimated value of a volunteer hour in 2016 was $24.14. For the Ombudsman program, that is over $14 million of assets due to volunteer service! 

Retention Tips 

NORC Ombudsman Compendium, Chapter 3 - Retention
The purpose of this chapter is to provide Ombudsman programs with tools and strategies that promote retention of skilled and effective Ombudsman program representatives. While careful recruitment of the right candidates and effective training are critical first steps in developing a qualified and successful long-term care ombudsman program, efforts that specifically target retention are equally important. Tips for successful retention include:

  • Understanding and supporting what motivates program representatives
  • Providing continuous support for staff and volunteers
  • Acknowledging the importance of formal and informal recognition
  • Implementing routine performance assessment
  • Establishing program policies and procedures that support and uphold Ombudsman core value 

This chapter also includes detailed information about on-going support, recognition, assessment and supervision. Read the Chapter 3 Appendices for Ombudsman program examples about recognition, retention, assessment, program management, career ladders, policies and procedures, and exit interviews. Additional information about volunteer recognition and retention is available on the NORC website here. 

Recognition Ideas 

Making sure that recognition happens consistently is more important than the size of the gesture. Recognition doesn't have to be flashy or costly. Recognition can be given in small thoughtful gestures such as sending a thank you card or rewarding someone with a certificate. However, more formal recognition events or gifts are fun ways to connect and show your appreciation for their work. Never underestimate the value of effective praising. Examples of volunteer recognition include: 

  • Certificate of appreciation
  • Thank you note
  • Volunteer award nomination form (example from Oklahoma here)
  • Value of volunteer handout (example from Oklahoma here)
  • Ombudsman volunteer survival kit (example from Missouri here)
  • Recognition banquet (example program from Tennessee here)
  • Ombudsman Volunteer Recognition Planning Idea List (example here

2018 Volunteer Appreciation Week 

What is your program doing to recognize the volunteers who give their time to visit and advocate with and for individuals that live in long-term care facilities? The week of April 15 to 21, National Volunteer Week, is a perfect time to reach out and say thanks for volunteering with your program and making a difference in the lives of the residents. 

We encourage ombudsman programs to thank their volunteers and recognize their work publicly by sending brief messages of appreciation for their dedicated advocacy (e.g. examples of their advocacy, years of service, photos). The messages will be posted on the website and highlighted on social media. Email your submissions to ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org. View submissions from 2017 Volunteer Appreciation Week here

Read archived issues of NORC Notes here. If you have a question, are not able to find a resource, or want to share training materials or program practices, please email ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

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