Volunteering At A Nursing Home – You’re Needed!

I was sick and you visited me – Matthew 25:36

Some time ago, a friend says,”Get your church friends to volunteer to visit your mom.”  Here suggestion resonated in my own heart. For the past few years, I came to understand her point.  She is right.

I could easily make this article about my mother and the needs for people to volunteer their time and visit the Pines.  However, the Pines is not the only nursing home in America. The same thing could be said of nursing homes in Canada, the UK, and other places.

How would you like to bring hope, to someone’s heart? How about sending a message to the forgotten that “You’re not forgotten!” How?

Related image I would like to start with debunking some popular myths about volunteering at a nursing home. For one, you do not need a divine calling to visit someone, at a nursing home.

You simply need a willingness to go. Be assured, God will give you the grace to go volunteer and help you. However, you need to make a decision to take the first step.

Don’t I have to be a pastor or a preacher? Hey! I am not a pastor or a preacher and I go. Of course, it’s to visit my mother in the Skilled Nursing section. While visiting, I have had the opportunity to talk with a few people.

I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always easy.  Yet, a willing heart is the most precious gift that you can give God and the people, who you’re visiting.  I suggest that you read the last sentence!

What about a nursing home ministry? I, for one, like the idea and I regret not joining one. I had the opportunity in Tempe, Arizona.  It was a small church and these people would regularly visit a local nursing home.  If I recall, they’d sing for residence and they shared Christ.

I imagine that it started with a need to visit someone and it grew to a full-blown ministry.  Did I mention that they asked a terrible singer to join them?  It’s true that I don’t have a great singing voice; however, they would point out a simple truth. The residence won’t care. Why? It’s because I’d be giving a priceless gift and it is not my singing.

It’s the gift of my time and a willingness to show that someone cares. It would also provide an opportunity to share my personal story.  Did you ever think your personal story may touch someone’s heart? You don’t always need a dramatic story to touch someone.  Did you know that they may have a story to tell?  

Yes, they do have something to offer.  You may be surprised at what you may hear.  You simply need to be willing to listen.  It may be that God will use the elderly person to minister to you. It can happen. In my case, I got such help outside of the local nursing home. I got the help because I volunteer at places that serve senior community.

Because I had a willingness to serve, the Holy Spirit lead me to the right places.  I simply needed to get up and go find them. The first one was suggested by a local realtor and the second one was suggested by the local Catholic church. In both cases, I’ve been greatly blessed.  What about the local nursing home? Do I need a ministry team?

Truth is, you really don’t need an actual ministry team.  Heck, you don’t need to have an elaborate program.  You simply need a willingness to go.  I can assure you that the residents would love to see someone from the outside.  When it comes to the assisted living area and the skilled nursing area, these residents rarely get anyone.

The above statement is very true of the Skilled Nursing.  It’s because these residents are generally suffering from different types of dementia.  They feel very alone and forgotten.  I can recall one poor woman crying out to Mary. The woman was confused and in need of prayer.  Though I’m not Catholic, my heart reached out to her and I silently prayed for Jesus to touch her heart.

Though I’m not Catholic, my heart reached out to her and I silently prayed for Jesus to touch her heart.  Did I not mention that you’d have an opportunity to pray for people.  With God’s help, you may find many such opportunities. Who knows? You may get an opportunity to share the Gospel.  I suggest that you go easy. 

How can you get started?  I would suggest that you contact the Activity Director and talk with that person. They can easily give you, some guidelines and ideas.  Before you call the local nursing home, I’d strongly suggest that you talk with God, the Father.  Ask for his guidance and help!  Secondly, it would help to have a friend.

Nursing homes can be emotionally rough; hence I would suggest that you partner with someone. Talk with a friend and make a general plan. The staff person at the nursing home may be able to help you.  Keep in mind, they know the residents and the general culture.  Such insights can also help your prayer time with God.

As you get to know the residents and their potential needs; other ideas may come to mind.  You could begin with delivering birthday cards to the residents. Even if they have dementia, it will still be appreciated.  I would suggest that you spend a little time, with the person.  You may find that they’d like a fleece throw blanket.  They’re typically $10 at Walmart.

I got the last idea from my mother. She’s always cold and the same thing is true for the other residents. So, we brought a blanket and it disappeared.  We brought some more blankets and they’d disappear. What the heck happened? My mother was giving away those blankets to the residents.  Though she has dementia, my mother is still a caring person.

You could try the above and you’ll brighten someone’s day.  A simple gift can open so many doors! Remember, these people are typically poor or they don’t have the means to get anything, from outside. Sadly, they are largely forgotten and don’t have anyone. Do you think Jesus is happy with such a situation? 

Why don’t the family get involved?  For one, they may not be able to visit.  I knew of one person, who’s son lived in Florida and he’s 80 years old.  They don’t have the money to bring her down and care for her.  Plus, some residents don’t want to leave the familiar settings of their area.

Your visits could be an answer to someone’s prayer.  In other cases, the residents outlived their relatives and are alone. You could be a comforting voice that helps the person to stay grounded.  It could remind them that they’re not alone and someone knows and cares.


Barry Brindisi

Author of "You Are Not A Lesser Human".

One Comment:

  1. Great idea! Thanks for writing about this topic.

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