It is becoming increasingly evident that providing quality of life through “person-centered” care is as much about nurturing meaningful relationships, that include trust, intimacy and empathy between two people. Volunteers, properly screened and trained are in the perfect place to provide that level of care. Hillcrest Health Services seems to get that!
On April 24, 2017 I had the pleasure and opportunity of meeting with Rachel Brandenburg, the volunteer coordinator for Hillcrest Health Services. The following excerpts from that interview reveal Hillcrest’s strong support of their volunteer program and the impact it is having not only on the people they serve but the people who work there as well.|
Paul: Rachel thanks for taking time out of your very busy day to talk with me. I’m in the business these days of highlighting great volunteer programs with the goal of inspiring other long-term service providers to make a serious investment in their volunteer program and I think after interviewing people around the world, I should probably take a look in my own backyard. And I think I found a great program right here at Hillcrest Health Services…and so what I’ve learned so far is that a great volunteer programs starts by hiring a great volunteer coordinator…
Rachel: Yes! And we are trying to be…we get a lot of great support here at Hillcrest. We are fortunate at Hillcrest to have a great team. In addition to myself, we have Kaylee Chilton as our volunteer specialist, so really she is a second volunteer coordinator. So there is two of us!
Paul: So tell me about your program.
Rachel: We have multiple communities with teams of volunteers in each one. As a result, we have multiple programs we lead in each but we also have a lot of support from the leadership from each community.
We have good volunteers too and we match them by their talents. When we go into that interview process with a volunteer, we want to know what they want to get out of this.
We know all of their needs but we want to match them to what their needs are and so we utilize volunteers a lot for [administrative] office support, behind the scenes kind of things to help us with the program. Our whole team gets good support. We are very fortunate.
Paul: As far as the staff, how do they feel about volunteers? Do they feel threatened by them, do they feel like they are going to be replaced by unpaid workers?
Rachel: In my time here at Hillcrest…we work with all the rec teams who are kind of the supervisors of the volunteer while they’re there…for us it’s just that continual education and really building the relationship.
So I’ve been educating all our teams on this is what our volunteers can do to help relieve you when you’re in need…as a supportive factor…so I haven’t got too much pushback or I haven’t felt that they feel threatened. We have so much education that we’re trying to push out all of the time on how we can help them…I feel like that’s helped alleviate any fear that they may have.
Paul: Ok. Well on the flipside, what kind of positive feedback have you heard?
Rachel: I don’t think that our teams really realized the help that a volunteer could provide until several of them had to go on vacation. They were like “Wow, we didn’t have to worry about that!”
Paul: So how many volunteers do you have?
Rachel: We are up to about 278 volunteers. We have over 300 but some are inactive because of life events.
Paul: About how many volunteer hours did you have for 2016?
Rachel: About 12,000 hours.
Paul: And then are their different tiers of volunteers, for example, those volunteers that come for special events as opposed to volunteers who are there weekly?
Rachel: We have special event volunteers so that would be more like casual volunteers that are on our roster, we have volunteers that come in and run Bingo every week, and the we have patient care volunteers that are there strictly for companionship care and then we have our hospice volunteers “no one dies alone” volunteers.
Paul: So volunteer training, what does that look like?
Rachel: So for someone like a group that’s just coming in only one time, we have them meet with the rec leader and the leader will go over HIPAA (privacy/confidentiality regulations). Then if the group wants to continue coming then they need to go through the process: the full interview process and orientation.
Paul: How do you recruit your volunteers?
Rachel: …we do career fairs…we link up with our HR team or our development team when they’re going out. I have a pretty good relationship with a lot of churches and word of mouth has been the best recruitment tool for me. We also use online like our website and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Paul: Rachel it’s been great visiting with you and learning about the Hillcrest Health Services volunteer program. I’m sure that the people who are staying in your communities benefit a great deal from the activities and the companionship your volunteers provide.
Rachel: Thank you!
If you have a nursing home volunteer program that you think I should feature, let me know! Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org