2018 has seen an increased awareness of the value of voluntary workers in care homes and a number of national care home groups now have permanent recruitment campaigns to attract volunteers. In a busy care home, enthusiastic and well-trained volunteers can make a huge difference to the quality of service users’ lives as well as developing new skills themselves.
With this year’s International Volunteer Day (IVD) approaching, it’s the ideal time to think about how volunteers could add to the service you provide in your own service. IVD was first designated by the United Nations as long ago as 1985 and will be celebrated more widely than ever this year with parades, conferences, workshops and celebrations taking place across the world.
Some care homes already have active volunteer groups contributing to the lives of residents, but others still fail to harness this valuable resource. As well as helping to improve the lives of service users, volunteers can gain valuable work experience, fulfilment and a sense of purpose particularly for those who want to make a useful contribution to their local community.
Read on to learn more about the value of volunteers and how you can contribute to the lives of the people living in your care home.
Even in the best resourced care homes, there are service users who would benefit from additional support, stimulation or companionship. Those who are reluctant or unable to join in group events or who have unusual or specialist interests are at risk of finding themselves feeling unfulfilled and isolated, as they may be harder to reach or find they have less in common with staff and other service users.
When staff are busy and time is short, these people often miss out but volunteers, with more time to sit, talk and develop relationships can provide exactly the type of support that they need to maintain their hobbies and interests.
4 Steps to Attract and Get the Most from Volunteers within Your Service
- Go public: Does your local community know that you welcome volunteers at your care home? Unless they’re aware of the opportunity to offer their time, they’re unlikely to approach you to find out more. Make a concerted effort to increase awareness of volunteering opportunities within your home, particularly at local colleges, churches, community centres and via your social media. The bigger your audience, the better your chances!
- Be creative: There’s a common misconception that volunteering is all about mundane tasks and this can be off-putting to many people. Remember that most people will have particular skills and interests that they’d like to share with others so encourage them to put these to use within your home. Musicians, artists, storytellers, bakers and knitters all have talents that they can share with residents to encourage interaction and activity.
- Give something back: Although volunteers give of their time freely, most will welcome the chance to learn new skills to help them in the wider world. Offering your volunteers access to training, supervision and the opportunity to shadow your team, can help them grow in confidence and learn new skills. If they are applying for paid work, a testimonial or reference in recognition of their work will be helpful too.
- Make it enjoyable: Volunteers who enjoy their work and who feel valued are far more likely to make a long-term commitment so try to make them feel a valued member of the team. Involving volunteers in staff events, Christmas parties and awards schemes will help them to feel included in the care home team and you could even have special volunteer events as a way of saying thank you for their help.