If you think volunteering in a nursing home is sad or boring, think again. As a volunteer, your presence can bring a new perspective to nursing home residents who still enjoy the interactions they have with visitors. There are many things that you can do as a nursing home volunteer, and even the simplest acts of kindness will bring a smile to those with whom you engage.
Most residents of nursing homes are there because they cannot live alone, have no immediate family, or they have medical conditions that require 24/7 nursing care. Many residents have families who visit and take them out to eat, etc., but there are others who would love to have a visit from a caring individual. If you have considered volunteering in a nursing home but don’t know where to start, consider the following suggestions.
Contact the Activities Director
Start by contacting the activities director. This is the individual whose job it is to plan activities for residents. He or she will tell you where your help is needed most. You may be able to help with activities that are already scheduled.
Assist with feeding
Some residents will not eat well without encouragement or may find it challenging to manipulate utensils or drink from cups. Usually, there is not enough staff to help every resident make the most to mealtime. Assisting a resident cut up food and supporting them with eating ensures that the individual gets the necessary nutrients and can make mealtime more pleasant.
Offer a little pampering
Styling a resident’s hair, trimming his or her nails, or simply rubbing dry hands with lotion can make a resident feel refreshed.
Read and write letters
Reading to a resident who has poor eyesight can be a treat. Reading inspirational literature, newspapers, and books can be stimulating to the brain as older adults listen and process what they hear. Writing letters is an activity that can keep residents connected to friends outside of the nursing home. Providing stationary, stamps or notecards and allowing the resident to dictate what he or she wants to be written is a very thoughtful gesture.
When you volunteer in a nursing home, you bring a little sunshine into the lives of residents. You become a family member to residents who rarely receive visitors, and they will look forward to your visits.