One of the first questions I get from owner/operators of nursing homes concerning volunteers is, “What about liability?”
My response: “What about it?” How many people are working in nursing homes today who have never had a course in gerontology? How many people are on nursing home floors right now providing cares for which they received no training or the person before them “trained” them in “this is how I do it.” How many lawsuits are currently being levied at long-term care facilities. Now before you send me your email about how many great people are working in nursing homes, save it. I know this from first-hand experience. In the 25 years or so of working with the long-term care community, maybe I’ve met five people who I thought were in the wrong job.
My point is that the answer to the liability question is “thorough vetting, quality training and treating and valuing volunteers as employees.”
With that said, I know from experience that there are people in our communities that are willing to be thoroughly vetted and trained being motivated not by the need for income but rather their need to engage in a meaningful way by giving back to their communities while sharing a passion for serving older adults. I would suggest that this person, this volunteer, will present less of liability problem than paid staff. Now if you’re going to send me email about volunteers replacing paid staff, save it.
We’re now approaching 1.2 million vacancies in long-term care staffing.
The ship is sinking. We need all hands on deck. We need to take advantage of every resource that is available to us, to include what I call “trusted” volunteers.
Ok, go ahead send me your comments and emails anyway.
Really, I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.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!
Discovering volunteers as a work-ready resource for nursing homes.
Delivering quality, “person-centered” care is a global need. People from around the world will gather here to collaborate, and to promote the “super” volunteer, the “credentialed” volunteer for nursing homes.
Wherever there are nursing homes, whether in U.S. or the UK, there is a ever growing need for highly trained, highly committed, compassionate, passionate volunteers serving older adults in nursing homes. For the foreseeable future, severe staffing shortages will jeopardize the ability of nursing homes to provide quality care. But, there are people in our communities who care about the living conditions older adults are facing. They care very much. They have the capacity to learn new skills. They possess a strong passion for older adults and they are willing to be trained and serve along side professional staff, not to replace them, but to support them. They do this as a way to give back to their communities while satisfying a deep desire to serve.
Volun-Cheer-Leader will spotlight people and organizations who share this same zeal and are already engaged in expanding the role of volunteers in nursing homes. In addition, Volun-Cheer-Leader will present best practices, current research and guest bloggers. This is an exciting start to what I believe is an ever increasing critical component in the delivery of long-term care.
Please join me by subscribing to this blog and join the conversation! I’m looking forward to meeting all of you! Please feel free to email me, offer your comments and share you thoughts about creating “credentialed” volunteers for nursing homes!