The Benefits of Volunteering in Care Homes

Ann Brown and her colleague Stephanie coordinate the wellbeing programme at Forthbank, an HC-One care home, in Stirling, which involves working with volunteers of all different ages. We asked Ann about the intergenerational benefits of involving volunteers in a care home setting.

How do you recruit your volunteers?

We first started by contacting the local college and SVE (Stirling Voluntary Enterprise) to find people with the skills and enthusiasm to volunteer in the care home. We then branched out to schools, providing opportunities for younger people who might be interested in working in the care sector in the future. We find that some young people might struggle at school but thrive in a different environment, especially when volunteering. We have volunteers of all different ages, from younger people aged 14 and upwards to retired people in their eighties. Everyone gets involved in activities together, sharing their skills and experience.

How do volunteers help deliver your activities?

Our volunteers allow us to expand the range of services and activities for our residents. They can help with all of our wellbeing activities at the care home, including creative writing, reading, gardening, cooking, and art classes (see picture). The care home has its own volunteer-run newsletter and magazine – our volunteers collect, edit, and publish stories every few weeks. We even have volunteer drivers who help us with daytrips. During cookery sessions, volunteers might help with chopping up vegetables, but they will follow the recipe and direction of our residents. Or out in the community garden, our volunteers might pitch in with some of the manual labour while our residents sort out the planting and seedlings. Our younger volunteers are always supervised and we have an induction process to help them get to grips with things. Managing our volunteer programme is now an important part of our everyday work.

How do your residents benefit from your volunteer programme?

It really helps to raise morale. During lockdown, when our volunteers couldn’t access the building, our regular Zoom meetings were a source of joy and excitement for our residents. Just seeing those familiar, friendly faces gave them a huge lift! Now that we’re getting back to some normality, we see our residents getting more active and excited about doing projects with our volunteers once again.

How do the volunteers benefit from being involved at the care home?

They learn new skills and adapt these skills to new situations. They meet people from different ages and share their experiences. No matter their age, it helps them feel valued. Maybe they thought they couldn’t do something but they soon discover they can!

Why should care homes involve volunteering?

Why not? There are so many people out there with hidden skills and it’s an amazing way of bringing together different generations. It gives everyone involved such a boost!