—Keara Meeley, Co-Head Web Editor—
Nursing homes are often looked at as a last resort for someone who does not need to be hospitalized but who is unable to care for themselves. However, nursing homes are much more than an intermediary between life and death. Along with medical care, nursing homes provide their habitants with the necessary mental stimulus in order to keep their brains healthy. Often this stimulation is found in games and other activities, as even socializing with others helps keep your brain healthy and active. While nurses are employed along with cooks, maids, and security, nursing homes often rely on volunteers to assist with activities. In fact, federal law requires any hospice receiving financial support from Medicare or Medicaid to have at least 5 percent of the care provided to residents done through volunteer workers. Volunteering at a nursing home can involve a range of activities. Some residents merely need extra company, while others require more care.
Volunteering at a nursing home can be a life changing experience because it is rewarding for everyone involved. Not only are the residents gaining a friend and someone they can talk to and interact with, but the volunteer gains crucial life skills and connections to those in the home. While many volunteers are retirees, looking for ways to get out of the house, many teenagers find volunteering at a nursing home fun and relaxing and a good way to rack up hours needed for school. Working at a nursing home is a good way to have a consistent volunteering gig. Cosby Sophomore, Lexi Ambrogi, says that she, “used to volunteer every tuesday to help support her grandma and get volunteer hours for her school.”
What does volunteering at a nursing home involve?
Volunteering can mean being a bingo caller, which involves calling out numbers and then helping players find the numbers on their cards. When I volunteered, I would either read and keep some residents company or play my guitar in the sitting room to give people some live music to listen to. Other duties can include socializing, helping perform daily chores, assisting with activities and games, and even painting nails.
How To Volunteer
- First find and locate if there are any nursing homes in your area. A few well known places in and around the Chesterfield area include Brookdale Midlothian, The Memory Center Richmond, and Sunrise at Bonair.
- Do some research on the what the nursing home is like and what is expected of a volunteer for that home.
- Check online for a way to contact the home, whether via email, over phone, or in person.
A great source to use when looking for volunteering opportunities is Hands On Greater Richmond. This website allows you to choose what you would like to volunteer in and shows you places in your area that are looking for volunteers.
Volunteering is a two way street, and both parties benefit. Whether gaining a new perspective on life or a new found passion, volunteering at a nursing home is a great way to help your community and yourself.
Photos Courtesy of Keara Meeley, Penelope R., Ann Jenikins, HandsOn