Susan M. Dow
Volunteer Ombudsman, Dane County
Board on Aging and Long Term Care
Volunteer Ombudsman Program
The Board on Aging is ver pleased to present the 2012 Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Program Award to Mrs. Susan (Sue) M. Dow.
Sue Dow (left), Julia Pierstorff (right)
Sue is our Volunteer Ombudsman at Badger Prairie Health Care Center in Dane County where she has been a dedicated Advocate for a year and a half. Sue makes weekly unannounced visits to this assigned nursing home, spending 2-3 hours each visit listening to the resident, talking with residents to empower them to speak up for themselves, reminding them of their rights and letting them know that she will be their voice when need be.
During Sue’s visits she is the “eyes and ears” for the Regional Ombudsman and, working together with the Volunteer Coordinator… they make a formidable team of advocates for the residents. Sue has made much more than a minor impact on the lives of the residents living at Badger Prairie. She has developed trusting relationships; as she stated “When I ask questions and share resident’s concerns…I most often get results, and sometimes I feel like I am a person’s someone.”
Sue’s weekly visits give residents a feeling of importance, value, and that we are listening to them.
Sue shared a few positive stories about her experience:
A resident who has been unable to remember Sue’s name or title recently saw Sue walking toward her from a long distance away in her neighborhood and shouted, ”Hey…are you here to see me?”
Another involves a non-verbal resident, who communicates with only a smile, had learned to say “I love you”, from her attentive caregiver, so she could say the words to her daughter on her daughters future visit.
Sue admits this wonderful interaction between the caregiver and resident brought tears to her eyes, and often gets goose bumps when sharing her stories about the residents she has come to care about and looks forward to seeing every week.
Sue is a native Wisconsinite; born in Milwaukee and raised in Port Washington.
Sue attended St. Norbert College, and then St. John’s College in Maryland to study in the “Great Books” program there. She is a firm believer in the liberal arts, and received her degrees in Philosophy and Law from the UW-Madison. Her great joy is dance. Sue taught ballet for 10 years, and ballroom dance for three years. She still loves to dance both ballet and ballroom; she says they are beautiful and exhilarating. It took many years, but Sue finally achieved the ability to perform a triple pirouette…amazing!
Sue retired two years ago, after a career of 31 years of state service. She managed the UW Hospital Patient Registration Department, worked as a Health and Family Services training officer, policy analyst, and for The Office of Child Support Management. Later, Sue provided legal counsel for the Department of Health Service’s administrative rules efforts, and for the Office of Caregiver Quality; which monitors caregivers’ training and certification, and which determines and prosecutes findings of misconduct committed by caregivers.
After retirement; Sue said she was looking for something positive to do that would allow her to meet and socialize with new people. She saw the Volunteer Ombudsman Program when it was featured on Madison’s Channel 27 during a United Way of Dane County promotion of volunteerism, and said “Holy Cow! That is right up my alley.” So she called and signed up right away.
Sue has been happily married to Stephen Dow for 25 years; they reside in Madison. They have two sons and 4 grandchildren.
The Board on Aging and Long Term Care is honored to have Sue as one of our Volunteer Ombudsmen, and we want to recognize her tonight with this prestigious award. We congratulate her, and we thank her from the bottom of our hearts. Sue is here tonight with her husband Stephen.