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How to build a successful volunteer program

How to build a successful volunteer program

The benefits of building a successful volunteer program at long-term care facilities are immense. These results justify the investment of effort and time on the part of the coordinating staff members. Volunteers can have rewarding and potentially life-changing experiences by interacting with older adults on a regular basis.

The residents also thrive in well executed volunteer programs, as many of the oldest adults might not have family members who visit often, which can lead to loneliness and isolation. From hosting single volunteer days once a month to bringing in a scheduled staff of volunteers, there are many ways long-term care facilities can build an effective volunteer program. Here are just a few ideas to keep in mind:

1. Carefully recruit high-quality volunteers
Anytime you plan to bring in volunteers to your long-term care facility, you should require each prospective volunteer to fill out an application, which covers their qualifications, time commitments and reasons for applying. While you want to bring in as many volunteers as you can, this application process will deter any casual applicants who may not adhere to your service requirements.

"Require each prospective volunteer to fill out an application."

It's also ideal to conduct face-to-face interviews with any prospective volunteers. These interviews don't have to be as extensive as staff interviews may be, but you should provide an overview of your facility, expectations of volunteers and request any personal references. During the interview, you can gauge the interest level of your applicants and see if they would be a good personality fit for your facility. 

To draw in high-quality applicants, you should have written job descriptions for every volunteer position available and spread these postings over social media and on volunteer job boards. This way, you will widen your applicant pool and hopefully bring in candidates who have extensive experience volunteering or working in health care or long-term care environments. 

2. Provide ample training and orientation opportunities
Once you have decided on who you want to volunteer at your facility, you need to provide ample training opportunities to set them up for success. During your orientation session, you should cover the volunteer job description, roles of the various team members with whom they will interact, professional boundaries, resident and volunteer safety concerns, confidentiality, infection control and basic communication skills.

"Perform regular risk control assessments."

Depending on where you plan to station your volunteers throughout your facility, you can tailor their educational and training programs to suit their roles. For example, volunteers who plan to serve in the dining area will have different training sessions than those who just want to sit and talk with residents.

It's important to note that comprehensive or collective orientation sessions may not fit the schedule of every volunteer. Some may work or go to school, making it difficult for them to attend certain sessions you may offer. To address this issue, consider developing and providing online training opportunities that prospective volunteers can watch on their own time. This may include instructional videos and accompanying worksheets or quizzes to see what the volunteers know or have learned. 

3. Monitor volunteers closely 
Periodic monitoring and evaluation of your volunteer staff is essential to ensure your residents are safe and healthy. Perform regular risk control assessments to ensure that volunteers are interacting well with residents and that the residents are benefiting from the volunteer program. Not only does careful monitoring mitigate elder abuse concerns, but it also allows you to continually improve your volunteer program. Send out quarterly volunteer, staff and resident satisfaction surveys to see how well people think the program is working. 

To learn more about building a successful volunteer program at your long-term care facility, talk to a representative from Mariposa Training today!

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