by Corina Sadler, CVA, Volunteer Resources Supervisor at City of Plano
I just finished reading “Creating the Volun-Cheer Force: Rethinking the Way We Use Volunteers in Long-Term Care” by Paul Falkowski Ph.D.
I first met Paul (virtually) when he interviewed me for the VolunCheerLeader Podcast. He may have been surprised to know that my Bachelor’s was in Applied Gerontology and after several volunteerism experiences with older adults in my youth I thought that would be my career path.
As many of you know I strongly believe and have witnessed first hand how volunteers providing in-person companionship in nursing homes are key to providing quality of life for the people living there and while raising the morale of the people working there.
Over the past several months, a microscopic entity forced us to face our fragility and vulnerability. This invisible creature brought our lives to a halt, forced us to live and work in near isolation, and, most egregiously, experience the heartache and extreme pain caused by knowing that our loved ones were dying alone in an intensive care unit. It’s time for change.
For the past nine weeks, like many of you, I’ve been sheltering in place with the occasional brief excursion to the grocery or drug store only to hurry home to resume hiding. The one saving grace and antidote for this insanity comes through the online courses I am teaching.
Of particular joy for me was launching “Volunteer Management and Aging Services.” Now, at the end of the semester, it has been extremely satisfying to read the students’ final exam submissions. I ask them to explain what they were taking away from the course, and as they move into their careers (administrators, health care workers, and social workers) how would they apply what they’ve learned.
While researching this article, I came across the blog “The Voice of Volunteering,” launched at the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) 15th World Congress in Madrid in May 2017. Moreover, while their focus is on volunteerism in the hospice and palliative care settings, in my opinion, it is more than relevant to the world of long-term care support systems (LTSS) in the United States. The EAPC Madrid Charter has three key aims:
Discovering the word for compassion in Hawaiian tradition…
I’ve written a few articles on compassion, and so for this one, I decided to do something a little different. I began by pulling up the word compassion on the internet to see what would pop up. My search produced a window with the definition of compassion, and then a “translate ‘compassion’ to” another language box appeared.
I started translating compassion into various languages starting with Afrikaans “medelye,” to Albanian “dhembshuri,” to German “barmherzigkeit,” Haitian Creole “konpasyon,” and then Hawaiian “aloha.” I stopped there because I was always under the impression that the expression “aloha” was an Hawaiian greeting and further research shows that indeed it is. But, I went on to discover that “aloha” means so much more.
Not surprisingly, one of the first objections I get for promoting and creating robust volunteer programs for long-term care communities is that it appears that I’m supporting the use of free labor. Nothing could be further from my mind! For sure, there are a lot of regulations and laws governing the use of volunteers but that should not deter you from creating and taking full advantage of a strong volunteer force.
For the past several months, actually since the first weekend in October, I’ve been experiencing some of the most excruciating pain a back injury can offer, or at least it feels that way. Mary and I love to take walks and on Saturday mornings during the summer and into early fall, we like to walk to the farmer’s market near our home to buy our week’s supply of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, corn, and jostle and bump our way through the crowds of people on a similar mission.