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Volunteering at Nursing Homes: Complete and Realistic Guide

Volunteering at Nursing Homes: Complete and Realistic Guide

If you have compassion and patience, you can become a nursing home volunteer by contacting local facilities, getting a background check, and committing just 2-3 hours per week to provide meaningful companionship to residents through activities like reading, exercising, or assisting with meals.
Volunteering At Nursing Homes
Volunteering At Nursing Homes
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Are you considering volunteering at a nursing home but unsure if you can commit the required time? ‘

Worried about becoming too emotionally attached to residents?

Unsure if you have the right skills? I wrote this guide to provide direct answers to these concerns.

  • Volunteering just 2-3 hours per week is often sufficient for most nursing homes.
  • Expect to undergo an orientation process to learn skills needed to assist residents with daily activities like meals, dressing, or physical therapy exercises.
  • Nursing homes understand volunteers bonding with residents and provide counseling resources to help cope with decline or loss.
  • Most importantly, you don’t need special skills other than patience, empathy, and a willingness to help – training will be provided.

The rewarding feeling of brightening a resident’s day makes the challenges worthwhile for most volunteers.

Volunteering at a nursing home may be right for you if you have a kind heart and want to spend time meaningfully.

This guide covers everything you need to start, so read on to learn how to contribute and make a difference.

Should You Become a Volunteer in General?

Here are some questions and considerations to keep in mind before becoming a volunteer:

  • Am I emotionally and physically stable enough to give support to others?
  • Am I willing to share my time without financial compensation?
  • Do I have the patience to work with senior citizens facing difficulties?
  • Is volunteering something I really want to do?
  • Do I have a natural passion to help others?

Just because you are not getting paid does not mean you will not have a great responsibility. And you have to take this responsibility seriously. People will start depending on you, which is not something you take lightly or shrug off easily.

benefits of volunteeringPin
Volunteering offers some extremely rewarding benefits to the volunteer but it isn’t for everyone.

The Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering at a nursing home has many physical and mental benefits. Here are some of the most common:

A Very Rewarding Feeling

Not everybody gets it. But the gratification of helping others can be one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. You are out there, making a difference. And all it takes is one person to inspire millions of others.

Thus, without question, you are bound to feel great about yourself, and the world around you. Volunteering acts as a natural high and boosts your mood, as well as your outlook on life.

You Get Out of the House

If you want to be – and stay – happy emotionally, do not be afraid to interact with the world. Spending time with others outside your comfort zone can do wonders for your overall health.

More importantly, volunteering at a nursing home can get you excited about life in general. Then you will want to leave the house more and experience new situations. Because nothing keeps you young like challenging yourself every now and again.

It Is Good for Your Health

Given all the things you can help senior citizens with, it is only natural that you benefit as well. For example, when you read to them or play an instrument, you keep practicing vital senses skills.

When you help them stay mobile or exercise, you add to your own physical health. You can even develop new skills if you like taking on new challenges. Basically, it is a win-win situation for you and the seniors you will be helping.

The Potential Drawbacks of Volunteering

Even though volunteering is a very rewarding experience, you must also be realistic. In other words, it will not always be easy or even joyful.

No Paycheck for your Labor

A good example of a potential drawback can be the lack of financial help. Seeing as you are not getting paid to volunteer, it could strain your situation financially.

Dealing with Death

Then there is the matter of befriending individuals and letting go not long after. You are going to build emotional bonds, and you are going to feel sad when these friendships come to a natural end. Are you ready to face the emotional challenges of volunteering at a nursing home?

Emotional Ups and Downs

Finally, nobody can stay positive all the time. And your ability to stay positive might be tested as you volunteer at a nursing home. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you have to be prepared for some sadness along the way.

typical duties nursing home volunteerPin
A common volunteer duty at nursing homes is helping put away laundry and clothing after cleaning.

What Are the Typical Duties of a Nursing Home Volunteer?

There is no straight answer to this question. Everything depends on which nursing home you volunteer at, the skills you have to share, and how much time you can put in.

And if you thought volunteer work at nursing homes is limited, think again. To give you some idea of how you can help, here are some of the basic tasks performed by volunteers.

  • Host special events like Bingo or card games
  • Aid senior citizens with daily activities, such as eating and getting around
  • Retrieving blankets for cold nursing home residents
  • Help in the kitchen
  • Putting away laundry
  • Reading
  • Dancing lessons
  • Art classes

If you have a special skill, there is a good chance you can make use of it at a nursing home. And even if you don’t have a special skill, basic assistance and conversation can go a long way.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Volunteer at a Nursing Home?

For the most part, no special requirements are necessary if you want to volunteer. You just have to be able and willing to fulfill a helpful role.

Although, it is recommended that you create a “volunteer resume”. Much like a typical resume, you note the skills you have and the time you can spend as a volunteer. More info about starting as a volunteer is provided later.

As for right now, you do not really have to worry about any specific requirements. Of course, this can also depend on the nursing home where you want to volunteer.

It will be a rare occurrence, but the nursing home may have some rules in place when accepting volunteers. You’ll likely have to have a background check. And this is most likely based on keeping their residents safe.

Do I Need Special Training to Volunteer?

In general, no. Unless you are volunteering to reconstruct the nursing home altogether, of course. Then you will obviously need special credentials and experience. But if all you want to do is make the lives of seniors more comfortable, there is no need for any special training.

This could change if you decide to move to bigger responsibilities. And if this requires special training, it will usually be provided by the nursing home. At the end of the day, it only takes a positive attitude and compassion to be one of the best volunteers in any nursing home.

How Old Do You Have to Be? How Old is too Old?

Strictly speaking, there is only a minimum age requirement if you want to volunteer. For obvious reasons, children can only volunteer if they are accompanied by adults. But it rarely happens that a volunteer is sent away because they are too old.

If you are physically able and willing to help others, there is a very good chance you can be a volunteer.

So, to answer the question, there is no specific age range to be a volunteer. Even kids can do it if they have a guardian with them. But the best way to get clarity is to contact the nursing homes in your area.

Inquire if they have any limitations in terms of age and if they have any other requirements.

become a volunteer nursing homePin
Most nursing home residents are just looking for someone who will spend a little time with them.

How to Become a Volunteer at a Nursing Home

Now for the part you have been waiting for – becoming a volunteer. We are about to go over some steps to help you start your nursing home volunteer career. And yes, it is much simpler than you anticipate.

1. Think About What You Have to Offer

First, start by listing your skills. Are you a great communicator? Do you have a natural talent to get people talking? And what about physical strength? Can you help other seniors move from the bed to the chair?

While listing your skills does not necessarily mean you’ll be using them, it helps the nursing home to find the best spot for you.

2. Get a Resume Ready

Volunteers usually become part of the big family, especially when they come around often. Having a resume ready will not just make it easier for the admin at the nursing home to place you as a volunteer, but they can easily contact you if necessary.

Remember, this is not a job interview. There is no need to be nervous or tense. In fact, you should feel very relaxed about the situation.

3. List Nursing Homes in Your Vicinity

Now that you know how to volunteer, it is time to find nursing homes in your area. Sticking with nursing homes closer to home is recommended, mainly because traveling can get expensive and tiring.

The last thing you want is to get frustrated by the commute. And if you can volunteer at a nursing home within walking distance, even better.

4. Make Some Calls

Whether to call the nursing home or show up for face-to-face interaction is your choice. The latter makes a stronger impact and shows you are serious about being a volunteer.

But nobody will think less of you if you prefer to call the nursing home instead. This is especially true if there are several options.

Summary and Final Recommendations

Is it just a coincidence that busy people usually appear happy and healthy? Or is there something more to it? From a medical point of view, it is good to stay active regardless of your age.

This is why volunteering at a nursing home can be such a great choice to keep busy. You are not putting yourself in any type of danger, nor do you face life-threatening risks. At the same time, you are improving your mood, keeping your mind sharp, and your body healthy.

Remember that volunteering will have certain challenges. And these can range from emotional to financial, depending on your situation. So be prepared to hit a few bumps along the way. Luckily, the reward of making a difference in somebody else’s life usually makes the effort worth it.

You do not need any special skills, training, or special connections. All you need is an able body, mind, and the desire to help those around you. If you can relate to the latter, any nursing home will be lucky to have you as a volunteer.

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Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

Scott Grant, CSA®, SHSS®

With over 20 years of experience and certifications as a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® and Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®, Scott Grant provides reliable recommendations to help seniors maintain independence through informed product and service choices for safe, comfortable living.

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