We are delighted that you want to learn more about the many opportunities available to make a difference in the lives of our state’s nursing facility residents! Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding activities of your life, and the positive change you can make to someone who lives in a nursing facility is immeasurable.
Residents are provided a full day of activities and rehabilitation in nursing facilities, but they truly thrive from interaction with visitors. Individuals who don’t receive family visitors and room-bound residents that have no outside contact especially benefit from the time spent visiting with a volunteer. Even those residents who appear angry, detached, confused or are suffering from such illnesses as dementia will react to the stimulation of another person.
Our residents are most deserving of this gift from you, but the return on your effort is also great. Among the many benefits of volunteering in a nursing facility are: building new friendships (with residents and staff, alike); making a difference in a person’s life; trying something new; creating job experience; and providing a service to your community.
Who Can Volunteer in a Nursing Facility?
You can! Our volunteers are young and old and from all walks of life. Whether you are a high school student or sorority or fraternity member needing to fulfill service hours or you are retired, a homemaker or a full-time professional just wanting to experience the joy of volunteering, we welcome you. Requirements for volunteers vary in each nursing facility, and each facility has its own activities program and its own set of rules. In general, you must love to be around older, frail people and you must be willing to take some direction from the staff members who know best how you can help.
What Types of Things Can Volunteers Do with Residents?
The possibilities are practically endless! From one-on-one visits to entertaining the entire facility, volunteerism can take a variety of forms. Below are just a few of the many possibilities:
- Play cards or a board game
- Read aloud to an individual or group
- Visit (or just listen)
- Teach a skill or talent (scrapbooking, weaving, painting, computer skills)
- Offer a free service (ministry, hair styling, manicures, dancing)/li>
- Play a game of Wii (some nursing facilities have Wii systems or bring your own)
- Serve coffee in the mornings
- Donate books, magazines, DVDs or other items
- Bring your pet for a visit
- Help a resident type his or her memoirs
- Play the piano or other musical instrument or sing for the entire facility
- Remember birthdays and help other residents make birthday cards
- Become a pen pal
- Be a behind-the-scenes volunteer, helping staff members
I Want to Volunteer! Where Do I Begin?
- Step 1: Decide on a nursing facility that is a good fit for you.
Visit our Find a Facility section and search by city for a list of nursing facilities in your area. Contact (by phone or in person) the facilities that interest you and inquire about their volunteer programs. Usually, it is the Activity Director who coordinates volunteers. Do not be discouraged if a nursing facility does not have a volunteer program that suits you; simply move on to the next facility.
- Step 2: Make a plan with the nursing facility of your choice.
Once you have determined which facility is the best fit, apply to be a volunteer and discuss your availability and the types of activities you are interested and capable of doing. Also, be honest about the duties you are not comfortable doing. Determine if there is any training involved and be sure to be there on time and prepared.
- Step 3: Show up and make a difference. It is important to honor your commitment to the residents and staff by showing up when you are expected. Consistency yields the best results for both volunteer and resident.