As you know, VolunCheerLeader is on a quest to identify and highlight outstanding volunteer programs. My journey is taking to me many different places to include Auckland, New Zealand. Recently, while explaining my mission to someone they immediately piped up and said, “You have to meet Jill Woodward, CEO of Elizabeth Knox Nursing Home and Hospital. After a series of emails, we scheduled a telephone call (Skype) and to no real surprise to me, the person who answered the call, Jill, was obviously full of passion, high energy and expert in her work. I spent about an hour talking with her. Later, I had the pleasure of meeting the Kristen O’Reilly, newly appointed to head Community Partnerships. Kristen was originally hired to develop the volunteer program for Knox. Here are excerpts from my communications with them. Read more…
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