Her mission: Ensuring care, respect for the elderly

Joan Rixom shakes the hand of each person she meets at Canterbury Tower. But she's not just there to make friends; Joan is a certified ombudsman, an advocate for the health, safety, and rights of residents in long-term care facilities.

"It's the small everyday things of life: Are you secure, are you safe, do you eat well, do people treat you right? If they don't, why not? Let's fix it," explained Joan.

Joan has volunteered her time, visiting senior living communities across the Bay Area, for over eight years.  Her job is to sit down with residents, get to know them and make sure their basic needs are being met.

"It's a very rewarding thing to do," said Joan.

Martha Cameron, a resident at Canterbury Tower, is grateful for Joan's check-ins.

"We get along fine and have a very pleasant relationship," she said.

She is happy to call Canterbury home.

"It's a nice location from climate to environment," said Martha.

But not all of Joan's cases are this pleasant. Some instances are heartbreaking.

"Not only heartbreaking. Some are disgusting. Heartbreaking because a lot of people can't have the facility that this is. A lot of people are cut off from friends and family and have to cope on their own. So they take what they can and that isn't very much," said Joan.

Joan reminds people in those bad situations that they do deserve better and that she is there to help.

"Sometimes people forget that just because you're old, just because you can't care for yourself, that you don't deserve respect. And that is a dreadful thing," Joan added.

She's ensuring and improving the quality of life and care for those who are sometimes forgotten, one handshake and smile at a time.