Suzanne Chevalier

Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

The COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating toll on congregate living facilities led Suzanne Chevalier to volunteer with her local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program after retiring from a 40-year nursing career.

"I was just really concerned about the conditions within the nursing homes and long-term care facilities and knowing how difficult it would be for all the residents there being so confined and the facilities being short-staffed," she says. "I thought this would be a way I could contribute."

Since then, Suzanne’s volunteer journey has been "very challenging but enjoyable," she says. "There is a lot to learn, and I’m still learning. You think you have it figured out and then another case comes along that you’ve never dealt with before."

While nursing experience is helpful, she says, paying attention is a key to being an ombudsman representative. "My observation skills are good, and that is important in this role. You have to be able to see, hear, smell — get all the senses going so you can be on top of things."

Suzanne is struck by how older adults need to have a voice.

"They are concerned about speaking up for themselves. To have someone really interested in their well-being means a lot to them," she says. "The greatest reward is seeing the smiles and hearing thanks for just being there for them — even if they don’t have a complaint."

Suzanne embodies the dedication of volunteers working to support older adults through California programs for 50 years and counting.

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