Volunteering in Care Homes
Why Volunteer in a care home?
Studies have found that the average amount of social interaction for people living with dementia in care is just two minutes a day, way below the levels healthy for a person. This has many knock-on effects including loneliness, agitation, depression and decline of physical health. Care home staff do an amazing job but often they just don’t have the hours in the day to spend regular one on one time with residents, or find ways to connect the care home with its local community That’s where you come in!
Sharing your hobbies, skills and time could significantly brighten an older person’s day, helping them to feel more excited by life and connected to the world around them. Volunteering in care homes isn’t just beneficial for the residents, you’ll be amazed at what opportunities are on offer and how much you’ll get out of it. Build friendships, take part in creative activities, learn a new skill or hobby from an older person, help organise and take part in interesting day trips all over Greater Bristol or simply spend time talking with fun older people about their amazing lives.
What sort of things do care homes need your help with?
We asked around 100 care homes in Greater Bristol what they would like volunteers to do. Many care homes wanted similar things from volunteers, below is a general list of what they need:
- Care homes usually have very few men living in them, so if you are a man you could give a male resident a chance for some male company to chat about everything and anything or enjoy sharing some hobbies and interests
- Driving the care home’s minibus. A lot of care homes have minibuses that sit idle due to lack of available drivers. If you have a minibus licence or would be interested in us helping you to get one, you could make sure residents get a trip out in the fresh air in the countryside or the seaside in summer.
- You could assist residents on day trips. It is hard for care homes to spare enough staff to assist residents out on day trips. Lending them a pair of hands to help people on and off the bus would mean more trips for the residents. And a nice day trip for you!
- Assist Activity coordinators with activities inside the home. This may be so that everyone is able to join in with an activity, helping them prepare for an activity or even running activities if you feel confident enough (like arts and crafts, music or flower arranging).
- Spend some one on one time with a resident. Not all residents are lucky enough to receive regular visits from family and friends and some are unable to leave their rooms to join in with group activity. Just half an hour can make a huge difference to someone’s well being and outlook on life. It could be anything from a good chinwag to just sitting with someone and looking through photos or books.
This is just a rough guide of what care homes may like. If you have a specific idea of something you would like to do, then please get in touch with our Community Engagement Project ‘Making Pals’ on Makingpals@aliveactivities.org
Where is my nearest care home?
Below is a map of all care homes in the Greater Bristol Area. If you are confident in contacting the care home yourself and offering your services, they would be glad to hear from you.
Alternatively, you may want to sign up for our free training to prepare you for volunteering in care homes. This will help you understand how care homes work and allow you to be more effective as a volunteer. After this, we will share with you a more targeted list of volunteering opportunities. This is recommended for people who may want to do more specific volunteering roles. More information is available here.
What to expect when you enter the care home
Care homes are busy places so when you first approach them, you may need to be patient when waiting for a response, or even remind them a few times that you are looking to volunteer.
You should not be left in a position where you are responsible for residents, a member of staff should always be with you or nearby. You will never be asked to provide personal care, and you should never move or handle a resident unless you have been fully trained. You are there to help and support activities, but you should not be left responsible for caring for residents.
When you do enter a care home you need to remember that you are a guest in someone’s home and you should behave accordingly. This means not only behaving with manners but making sure you make contact and talk with any residents you come across as you would if you were visiting friends or family.
Care homes can sometimes be noisy, residents may shout out and could seem distressed. This can sometimes be as a result of the symptoms of conditions that people are living with and should not always be seen as a safeguarding or care home issue. However, if you see something you are concerned about you should always contact a member of staff at the care home and your relevant safeguarding team.
Will I need a DBS check to volunteer in a care home?
You will need a DBS check if you are to spend any time alone with residents. However, most care homes will expect you to have a DBS check as standard regardless of what activities you will be doing. You can find some information about DBS checks and what you will need to do here.
As you are a volunteer your DBS will be provided free of charge from the government to the care home and will not cost you any money.
Where can I sign up to volunteer?
Alive offers volunteer training as part of our Making Pals project and will help you find a care home that suits your skills, personality and locality. More information about the project can be found here, you can sign up for our training here.
Alternatively, you can have a look for your own opportunity. Below is our map of volunteering opportunities and volunteer centres across Greater Bristol. If you are a volunteering centre that would like to be added to our map, please get in touch.