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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The Power of Aloha

Discovering the word for compassion in Hawaiian tradition…

I’ve written a few articles on compassion, and so for this one, I decided to do something a little different. I began by pulling up the word compassion on the internet to see what would pop up. My search produced a window with the definition of compassion, and then a “translate ‘compassion’ to” another language box appeared.

I started translating compassion into various languages starting with Afrikaans “medelye,” to Albanian “dhembshuri,” to German “barmherzigkeit,” Haitian Creole “konpasyon,” and then Hawaiian “aloha.” I stopped there because I was always under the impression that the expression “aloha” was an Hawaiian greeting and further research shows that indeed it is. But, I went on to discover that “aloha” means so much more.

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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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Baycrest – A Look at a Premier Volunteer Program

Picture of Baycrest marquee
Baycrest – Toronto

For the past 25 years, I have been advocating for people to visit the people living in nursing homes. So often nursing home residents do not get visitors which may lead to feelings of loneliness and uselessness.

Over the last seven years I have been advocating for nursing homes to not only expand their volunteer programs but to expand the role of the volunteer in their nursing homes.

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Volunteer Programs and Your Public Image

female volunteer with older woman
Volunteers change persceptions…

Perceptions are everything. From my earliest days of military training to the present, I have been taught and now am teaching my own students and volunteers that perceptions powerfully influence the way people think and react.  This holds true for nursing homes as well. Recruiting volunteers is challenging particularly when it comes to recruiting volunteers for nursing homes.

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How do you recruit 800 volunteers?

art group in tawa

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…

“What about liability?”

One of the first questions I get from owner/operators of nursing homes concerning volunteers is, “What about liability?” 

volunteer reading to nursing home resident
My response: “What about it?”

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