Because many nursing homes lack adequate funding, volunteers play a crucial role in assisting residents and enriching their quality of life. Whether you're looking to gain professional experience or donate your time to a good cause, nursing homes across the nation can use volunteers like you. Before you take the leap, know what you're getting into. Doing a bit of research and taking a few things into consideration is a good way to ensure you find the right volunteer opportunity.
Choose a Role
Before you begin seeking nursing home volunteer opportunities, think about the role in which you'd thrive best. Nursing homes offer a wide variety of roles. In some roles, volunteers provide companionship, playing cards and board games or sharing good conversation. In other roles, volunteers help residents keep their rooms and common areas clean. Perhaps you'd like to volunteer to deliver meals to the residents. If you're interested in the clinical aspect, a role helping residents who have trouble walking, or assisting with rehabilitation exercises may suit you best.
Do Your Research
Once you have a good idea of which type of volunteer role for which you're best suited,do some research on opportunities in your area. Online volunteer-match websites make it easy to connect volunteers with senior-service organizations throughout the United States that need help. VolunteerMatch.org and AARP.org are two places to start. If you prefer going the off-line route, check your phone book for nursing homes in the area, contact them and inquire about volunteer opportunities.
Understand the Duties
Succeeding as a volunteer means meeting or exceeding the expectations of the program. Once you find a nursing home in need of volunteers, ask questions and make sure the duties align with what you're looking for. Your duties depend on the role for which you're applying. A resident-outing volunteer role may involve taking residents off campus to shop and eat. Some duties may include helping residents find items, pushing residents in wheelchairs, helping to carry purchases and being a friendly companion.
Apply and Attend Training
Apply for the role in which you're interested. Many nursing homes have applications you can submit online; others require you to drop by in person to complete an application. Expect to attend training if your application is approved. Training may involve learning to understand and recognize age-related impairments, as well as training to make sure you can perform your duties. Review the requirements before submitting your application; for example, some volunteer roles require you to have a driver's license and a good driving record.
- Vladimir Kolobov/iStock/Getty Images