Most of the excellent nursing home volunteers I've encountered over the years have been involved with the recreation department, hosting or bringing residents to activities. Here are some other volunteer positions of great value to the residents, some of which I've witnessed and others I'd like to see.
Nursing home residents really need someone to:
· Mend torn items and replace missing buttons
· Take them outside for some fresh air and sunshine
· Run errands (or maintain the Independence Cart)
· Organize their belongings and make their rooms homey (It's hard to reach stuff from a wheelchair)
· Replace broken watch bands, worn-out watch batteries, and missing eyeglass screws
· Cut and style their hair (Many residents have no funds to pay for the fee-based hairdresser)
· Facilitate visits between friends on different floors (when mobility is an issue, they might as well be in different countries)
· Help them write letters to friends and family
· Provide computer education and support (Hopefully, all nursing homes will soon have computers for the residents)
Please add your additions to the comments section.
For more on volunteering, see my earlier post, “Why every nursing home should have a Volunteer Coordinator (and what they do),” and stay tuned for my upcoming post on Great Reasons to Volunteer in a Nursing Home.
Dr. Barbera is an author and a licensed psychologist consulting in long-term care facilities in the New York City area. She frequently lectures on subjects related to psychology, aging, and nursing homes. Dr. Barbera is available for private consulting with organizations, institutions, and individuals around eldercare issues. Visit her personal blog at