During the holidays, many people look for things they can do to help others.
Becoming a volunteer at a care community is a great option, but one that
should be a long-term partnership and not just a seasonal opportunity.
Gary Kelso of Mission Health Services explains some ways and reasons to
become a Mission Health Services volunteer.
For some residents’ family and friends, it is not an option to visit on a regular
basis, reserving visiting days for the holiday months. However ongoing
friendships and companionship are important for nearly every nursing home
resident throughout the year. A new face and helping hand from a caring
member of the community can make a significant difference in the life of a
Why volunteer? Becoming a volunteer in a care community is as simple as
committing your time. This is an opportunity to be involved in your local
community, provide a helping hand, and build a long-lasting friendship. Not
only do the residents benefit, but you can also gain a fulfilling a rewarding
experience you will remember for a lifetime.
Tips to remember if you are considering volunteering:
Decide what type of volunteering you would like to do
1. Volunteering is a commitment. Before signing up for a volunteer position,
consider the amount of time you are able and willing to give. Try not to
commit to time you do not have. And consider what type of volunteer you
want to be – one that comes in and provides some type of entertainment
such as a musical group performing or a relationship based volunteer that
commits to regularly visiting the nursing home.
2. Invest in the organization.
Ongoing volunteer opportunities
1. First of all look to what you have an interest in – perhaps you have a hobby
or skill you could teach others – water color painting, knitting, wood
cooking or baking. Or perhaps you are an avid reader and would like to
facilitate a book club and possibly be the reader for the group. Or you would
like to play an instrument at a sing along. There may be additional
opportunities to teach residents how to use the computer, to email or Skype
2. Organizations such as Mission Health Services promote “meaningful
activities” which happen in a group setting as well as in a one on one visit.
Consider being a friendly visitor that regularly visits one or two specific
individuals to provide that needed companionship. The social worker can
guide the volunteer toward residents most in need of companionship.
3. Consider being a Legacy Recorder – helping a resident record their life
story and share their legacy with others. Tools are available at communities
such as Mission to help with this important process.
Expect to receive far more than you give.
1. Look for ways that you can engage residents and learn from them. The
most successful experiences are when the residents are active participants
and not just passively watching.
2. See the residents as able to give as well as just receive. Try to keep a
positive and open mind. Volunteering or becoming a care partner is not a
chore, but a reciprocally beneficial experience to build a friendship.
As a volunteer, you are a valued member of the care community. Your time is
important to the staff, and especially important to the residents. Your
mission is: making a difference. This relationship can greatly improve the
quality of your life and the life of another.
For more information or to learn more about Mission Health Services, go to
or call toll free 855-AT-MISSION.