How to Work with Volunteers

For our May competition, we asked you to tell us about the role of volunteers in your care setting. Volunteers make such a huge difference to our lives in so many ways, and during Covid-19 volunteers have really been stepping up across the country to help keep things going. You had all sorts of positive things to say and tips to share. Here are some extracts from our favourites…

“Our volunteers vary in age – with our youngest befrienders being just five years old! They read poetry, talk, and show our residents their homework. We also have volunteers from our local church, who come and do a service once a month, playing the piano and singing. It really is truly beautiful to see a friendship blossom between people, whatever the age gap.”
Sheryl Melia, Elburton Heights Care Home (Winner)

“People volunteer for various reasons and it’s important to provide varied opportunities to meet the different needs and motivations of volunteers. If volunteers have a positive experience, they will encourage others to get involved. We provide training, induction and ongoing support. During the pandemic, volunteers haven’t been able to visit, but have supported residents through telephone befriending, video messages, letters, virtual gardening etc. They have also helped with collecting prescriptions, shopping, administration, social media, making masks and more.”
Alastair Addison, Nightingale House (Winner)

“One of the best things I ever organised is a group called Artytime which is run by local mums who bring their kids (up to age five) to visit our residents every Thursday morning. Residents interact with small kids in various ways. The closeness of the kids gives them so much.”
Alicja Nozewska, Copper Beech Nursing Home (Winner)

“Reaching out through friends and acquaintances old and new, word of mouth and keeping your ear to the ground has opened doors to the local community – church groups, folk groups, art teachers, high school pupils, nursing and university students – we are fortunate to have been graced with some special people.”
John King, Ashford House (Winner)

“Summarising in 100 words how we value our volunteer Trevor is hard. Trevor’s dad was a resident here, and so he understands true life in a care setting, offering compassion to residents and staff with whatever they’re experiencing. He drives the minibus, goes to the shops and pharmacies, talks, listens, assists activities, provides maintenance support, serves refreshments, and offers ideas of what’s going on in the local community. An extra pair of hands, eyes and ears; Trevor’s our voice to promote us.”
Lorna Rowley, Hempstalls Hall Care Home (Winner)

“The best way to work with local communities is to be open, friendly, welcoming and inquisitive. To enable people from different backgrounds and cultures to feel like they can approach us. Volunteers play a crucial role at The Rise. We’ve built a fantastic relationship with our local Brownie pack who come and sing or play inclusive games. The very young also visit regularly with their mums for coffee and cake (or bottle and rusk!), and many more.”
Nikki Fletcher, The Rise Care Home

“We have a pack of PAT dogs – three that come regularly and work with specific residents to build a bond, both with the owner and the dog. The dogs know who they are going to see, they settle quickly, and those residents who see the dogs normally need this stimulus as they do not interact, or have very little mobility or speech.”
Julie Adcock, Wiltshire Heights Care Home

“We are a constituted voluntary club which began in 2003. Without our volunteers, we would have no club. Between our two weekly clubs, we have 70 members, mostly living with dementia. Twice a week for 17 years, my valued volunteers have given their time, love and money to the members of the club. Many were carers and enjoyed the club so much they have stayed as volunteers.”
Sandra Edmonds, Great Yarmouth Memory Club

“Volunteers are assisting with delivery of hot nutritious meals to their doorsteps. They are also collecting prescriptions from pharmacies and then delivering those, plus delivering food boxes.”
Tracy Parrett, Romney Marsh Support Club

“The best ways of working within the community is with enthusiasm. At KH we have emotional, pet, physical, musical and spiritual support, notably from local churches who visit: monthly for a chat, monthly Holy Communion and choral singing. Also volunteers who visit for either a simple chat and/or reading to residents with limited sight. One couple have visited on Sundays to support games, and also music, by providing a guitar and large print song sheets of popular and wartime songs.”
Mike Deacon, Kit Hill Nursing Home

“Our usual community helpers at St Marks are local schools, who chat with residents and read or join in art sessions with them, visits from local churches, and of course the fantastic help from relatives. Covid-19 and the lockdown has turned this all around but the following people and organisations have rallied around and kept everyone’s spirits up in many different ways. Our thanks to The Gathering Place for care packages, Starbucks who donated milk, a local school caretaker who made face visors, Gwyr Gin Distillery for making alcohol gel, and a five-year-old girl who painted a rainbow and put it through our letterbox. We sent her some birthday presents to thank her.”
Gill Rowden, St Marks Court