Creating the Volun-Cheer Force – Review

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. 

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“Timely, Not Counter-Intuitive”

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.

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It’s Time for Change!

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.

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Volunteers During a Crisis

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.

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Yes!

Every possible resource will be needed to support an ever-aging population in the U.S.

A colleague just shared the Washington Post article: “Taking steps to establish a National Volunteer Care Corps to help older adults” with me and I am just thrilled to see this happening. Creating a sustainable volunteer force is badly needed.

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Professional Staff, Families and… Volunteers!

While researching this article, I came across the blog “The Voice of Volunteering,”[1] 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:

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Creating a Robust Volunteer Force: It’s not about free labor

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.

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Training for Long-Term Care Volunteers Goes Online!

I am thrilled to announce that “Volunteering in Long-Term Communities” volunteer training is now available online!

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Recognizing the Value of Volunteers

Helping hands

When you think about a volunteer what comes to your mind?

I see someone who is engaged, aware of his or her community needs and committed to helping others.  Not remaining mere spectators, they step up to the plate to contribute their time, skills, and their knowledge to meet those needs. Continue reading “Recognizing the Value of Volunteers”

We’re looking for “co-conspirators!

Paul P. Falkowski PhD
Paul P. Falkowski, PhD

There just isn’t enough exposure for great nursing home volunteer programs. Most communities have their own newsletters or social media outlets, but where can someone go to learn about programs from a wide variety of communities, all in one place.  The answer: “VolunCheerLeader.com”

This blog is created to highlight great programs and I’ve already identified a few of them, but there are many more great programs out there and so I want to hear from you.  If you are a director of volunteers for a long-term care community and you think you have a great program, let me know about your program and I’ll feature you right here just as I have others.  People in the professions of caring for older adults need to hear about your program. It is my hope that they will be encouraged and inspired to create great programs of their own.

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