6 Tips For Senior Home Care Volunteers

Did you know that you can be a volunteer for a senior home care company? They can always use people who are willing to help their patients with cooking, light cleaning, writing letters, and just visiting. If you decide this is something you would like to try, here are some tips for you. 

1. Be genuine. You may worry that the patient won't like you or that you won't know what to do. Just be yourself! Relate to the patient and not to their illness or disability. You may feel a little awkward at first, but as you get to know each other that will melt away. 

2. Take the initiative. The patient may look to you to set the pattern of interaction. Decide exactly how much time you can devote to your volunteer work, starting with less than you think you will be able to do. You can always add more time later. Brief visits and short phone calls are always appropriate. If you find yourself doing all the talking and the patient seems overwhelmed, cut the visit short and plan to come again. 

3. Set boundaries. This may be the most challenging part of being a volunteer. Be aware of how you are feeling at all times. If you find yourself doing or saying anything that you would not repeat to your team members you should step back. Do not share too much personal information, including your address and your phone number. The patient can reach you through the volunteer coordinator. If you feel like a patient is not respecting your boundaries, ask to be reassigned. 

4. Pay attention to the little things. Notice your patient's moods. If they seem down, stop by with a small plant or some flowers. Let them know that you are thinking about them. Don't feel like you have to be overly talkative. Sometimes just sitting there and keeping someone company can mean a lot to them. If both you and the patient are comfortable with it, some light physical contact (such as hand holding) is appropriate.

5. Meet them where they are. Do not try to force a patient (or their family) to change. You may disagree with how they handle some things, that is okay. Your responsibility is to help where you can. Listen patiently without giving advice. If they ask for it you can reply briefly, but don't pressure your patient to agree with you. These visits are about them and are not about you or your views.

6. Be dependable. This is vital. When someone is in crisis, it is essential that they know they can count on someone. If you have to back out for some reason, let your patient (or their caregiver) know with as much notice as possible. Your other team members might be able to step in and make a visit, as well. While your visit might be a small part of your week, it is a big deal to your patient and to their caregiver. 

Being a senior home care volunteer can change your life. You will meet some wonderful people and you will feel a deep sense of satisfaction. It is definitely worth the small amount of time it will take. Call a company like In Your Home Care today to see how you can help make someone's day.