How-To Articles

How to Use Your Volunteers

Now that you have volunteers signed up to help with your activity program, are you using them in a way to fit your needs?

We all want volunteers, but we also want to make sure that we are using them in the most beneficial way. Here are 3 areas in your activity program to consider having your volunteers focus on:

Working With Residents

Room Visits. Teach volunteers how to engage residents in activities while visiting them in their rooms. In addition, show volunteers how to make activity boxes (containers of items that are of interest to the resident that can include photos, favorite books, etc.) for each of the residents that they visit. These boxes can be kept in the residents’ rooms so that other visitors or staff members may use them as an activity.

Group Activities. Help volunteers feel comfortable leading some of your program’s activities. For instance, start volunteers off with easy activities, like calling Bingo, to build up their confidence.

One-on-One Activities. Consider matching your volunteers with particular residents so that each time the volunteers comes in, they can continue working with the same resident (e.g., a volunteer who enjoys crossword puzzles can assist a resident with the puzzles each time the volunteer comes in). Encourage volunteers to build a rapport with each resident that they work with in order to encourage the resident to want to continue to do activities.

Setting Up Activities

Craft Models. Invite volunteers to make models of upcoming arts and crafts projects in order to have an example of the finished product that can be shown to residents at the arts and crafts activity.

Activity Set-up. Recruit volunteers to set up for an upcoming activity, like taking out the bowling pins for the upcoming bowling tournament or passing out song sheets for the sing-along.

Assisting the Activity Department

Organize. Use qualified volunteers to set up or organize data on your computer for activities. For example, if a volunteer is knowledgeable about Microsoft Excel, have them set up a spreadsheet on your computer featuring information about each of your residents (e.g., birthdays, former occupations, religion) that can be accessed easily when needed.

Decorate. Invite residents to assist the department with setting up for special event activities, like blowing up balloons for a birthday party or making birthday cards to hand out at the party.

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