Prior to the Nursing Home Reform Act…

Paul P. Falkowski PhD
Paul P. Falkowski, PhD

The history of volunteers and their role in nursing homes is of great interest to me at the moment.  I’m writing about the evolution of the volunteer role in nursing homes before and after the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.

There is no doubt that the NHRA brought about significant and positive changes to the way older adults were viewed and how they received care.

However did we inadvertently hamstring nursing home volunteers in the process?

I think we did.  From my experience in training what I am now calling “super” volunteers, I’ve learned these volunteers could be doing so much more to support the nursing home staff.  All they need is quality training.  Over the years, I have reviewed the volunteer training literature of many nursing homes. I’ve discovered that not even the basics of the aging process are covered in that training or what the nursing home experience is like for the older adult much less adding training for certain skills.  And in many cases there is no training at all!

“There are people in our communities who have a strong passion for older adults and have a strong commitment to serve them.”

Looking at the current nursing home staffing crisis, can we afford not to take advantage of every resource that is available to us?  If providing “person-centered” care is truly our goal, then who is in a better position to provide that individualized attention? Even though care staff receive training in how to provide person-centered care, the stark reality is they don’t have time to provide that kind of care. Short staffing prevents them from doing so.

Volunteers have the luxury of time.

I need your help.  If you, or if you know of someone who worked as an administrator, director of nursing, volunteer coordinator, or activity director during the days prior to the Nursing Home Reform Act (prior to 1987), please have them contact me at: paul@voluncheerleader.com 

I want to learn as much as I can about the role volunteers played during those days and how their roles changed after 1987.

Thanks and have a great week!
Paul

Discovering volunteers as a work-ready resource for nursing homes.