SNAP and the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program are pleased to announce the appointment of Aaron Riley as the new Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Spokane, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman counties. Riley replaces longtime director Linda Petrie who recently retired after launching the program over 25 years ago.

“Aaron is a seasoned professional with a 25-year history of work in the not-for-profit world especially as part of Community Action agencies like SNAP providing services to citizens in need through a deep understanding of community needs and the strategic use of certified volunteers,” said Patricia Hunter, director of the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

Aaron Riley is the new Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Spokane, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman counties
Aaron Riley is the new Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Spokane, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman counties

LTCO provides statewide direct advocacy and complaint resolution services for elderly and disabled residents of long-term care facilities.  Each state is mandated by federal and state law to establish a Long-Term Care Ombudsman program serving residents.

From dehydration to medication issues to family conflicts, LTCO volunteers – with guidance from Riley and his staff – mediate resident concerns by working with facility administration and social workers. Issues that require further intervention are referred to organizations like Adult Protective Services and Residential Care Services. The Eastern Washington program is one of 13 throughout the Evergreen state.

Riley comes to Spokane from Columbus, Ohio where he most recently worked for the Franklin County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board.

“I am both humbled and honored to be able to be an advocate for vulnerable adults living in long-term care facilities and to work for an organization whose values align with my personal values,” Riley said.

Riley oversees a region that includes 27 nursing homes, 71 assisted living facilities and close to 200 adult family homes in five counties. The facilities account for over 7,100 long-term care beds.

“The LTCO program exemplifies what SNAP has stood for since our inception 50 years ago,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “We are here to provide support and hope for our neighbors in need while treating them with the utmost dignity and respect. We feel fortunate and grateful that someone as qualified as Aaron will be carrying on the tradition of reliable leadership that Linda Petrie established when LTCO joined the SNAP roster of programs over 25 years ago.”

The Eastern Washington LTCO program has averaged approximately 5,000 volunteer hours and around 2,400 visits each year. Riley and a staff of two oversee a group of close to 40 volunteers.  There is a mandatory four-day training for prospective volunteers along with ongoing technical assistance and a support group that meets regularly. Already, Riley is putting out steady notice that the program is always looking for more volunteers.

“The success of this program hinges on volunteer support,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a great group on board, but we could definitely use more.”

Learn more about the transition of LTCO leaders at SNAP in this article from the Spokesman-Review.