Throughout the week, organisations and individuals from the Health and Social Care sector are taking part in a series of virtual talks and panels; discussing the incredible work done by the healthcare workforce and also the key challenges faced by the sector.
Celebrating our care home volunteers
While the emphasis of the week is on professional care workers, we wanted to take this opportunity to also recognise those who volunteer their own time and energy to support our residents in our care homes.
Volunteers are a vital part of the Agincare family. They are intrinsic to the person-centered care we provide for our residents and we believe that they are just as worthy of being called heroes as our frontline care workers.
That’s why we want to introduce you to a few currently working in our care homes and to find out more about what care home volunteering entails and why they do it.
If you would like to join our incredible team of care home volunteers, get in contact with your local Agincare care home today.
Sophie is one of our youngest care home volunteers. Aged just 17, she has been volunteering in our Rochester Care Home for the last five months, following a week’s work experience.
I started doing work experience and just really liked hanging out with the residents. Afterwards, I started volunteering and coming in every Friday.
Sophie’s great grandmother, Freda (99), is a resident at the home and enjoys being able to spend time with her great granddaughter. Together they like to chat, complete puzzles and play games.
However, as a volunteer, Sophie also enjoys engaging with Freda’s friends and fellow residents.
I talk with the residents, we dance and play games like balloon tennis and basketball. They love the balloon tennis. It livens them all up; it’s so nice to see.
Currently studying for her A-Levels, Sophie juggles her care home volunteering with school, and a part-time job.
I go back to school in a week or so and hopefully the timetable will allow me to keep volunteering on a Friday. Normally I do an hour Friday morning, then four or five at the home before I go to my part time job.
With big dreams of reading criminology at University in the coming year, volunteering at Rochester Care Home is not so much about the career progression for Sophie as it is the rewarding experiences. In hanging out with the residents, she has become a popular participant in games and has even brought her own pet dog, Alfie, in to do his own bit of care home volunteering.
Over the past five months, Sophie has become a fundamental part of the team at Rochester, bringing a youthful energy and enthusiasm which lingers in the spirits of the team and residents long after her visits. Adding her own comment on what Sophie means to the team, Activities Coordinator Anne Wilkey said:
She is so lovely to have around; it’s an absolute pleasure having her!
Meet care home volunteer Maureen
Like Sophie, Maureen volunteers at our Rochester Care Home and saw her path to care home volunteering begin when a relative became a resident.
Maureen (64) became a care home volunteer last year when visits to see her mother, Jo (93) resulted in her forming a rapport with many of the residents at the home.
I started volunteering quite naturally. One day, when visiting my Mum, I stayed during the lunch time to encourage Mum to eat more. From that I gradually got talking to the residents and they really know me now. I asked Anne if I could come along and help out and so now I volunteer weekly.
Maureen currently volunteers on a Tuesday but has plans to do a second day soon, as well as help out with any special events when needed.
With a career in banking behind her, Maureen first found her way into care in 2015 when her Mum was diagnosed with dementia.
When my Mum was diagnosed with dementia I started doing a bit of care. Not personal care, just helping people with tasks around the house, a bit of cleaning, giving them a bit of company, that sort of thing. I really liked it and got a real rapport with the people I visited.
As with all of our care home volunteers, Maureen does not provide personal care for the residents. Instead, she likes to sit down and talk to them, listen to their stories, and engage them in activities.
For Maureen, volunteering is about getting to know the residents. Removed from the care responsibilities, our care home volunteers are in a unique position to engage with the residents as equals rather than care workers. Often, they form close friendships and open up conversations that help our care teams to learn more about those they support and how best to care for them.
Above all however, care home volunteers bring the gift of new memories into the homes.
I absolutely loved the other week. During the day we had some time to spare and so I put on some music and had everyone singing. They could hear us down the corridors. It really brightened up everyone’s day.
Barbara (73) worked at Victory Care Home in Kent for 20 years before her retirement at the start of the pandemic.
In a career at the home spanning two decades, Barbara had seen many changes, including its acquisition by Agincare, and wasn’t quite ready to let Coronavirus mark the end of her time there.
As soon as it was safe to do so, she returned as a care home volunteer and immediately became the caretaker of the tuck shop trolley. She explains:
Normally I go in and get the tuck shop trolley from where I store it, stock it up and walk around chatting to people. Once I have been round with the trolley and put it away, if there is time afterwards and the weather is good, I do a little in the garden.
On a Monday and Thursday afternoon each week, Barbara will take the trolley to every room and chat to the residents; taking time to find out about their day and how they feel. This, Barbara explains, is the most rewarding aspect of her care home volunteering.
I get so much out of it. It’s fun with the residents, especially when you get through to them and you can see it in how they feel.
Having spent a large part of her career in the home, Barbara finds many ex-colleagues and friends there to greet her during her hours volunteering. Above all, she is most grateful to Care Home Manager, Theresa, who has been an unwavering support over the past few years.
Theresa has been fair and good to me. I volunteer because of her and because the home is really very well run. I know it sounds like I’m making it up but many of the staff have been there for years and it really is a very well run home.
When not volunteering at Victory, Barbara devotes her time to the Alzheimer’s Café.
Become a care home volunteer
Sophie, Maureen and Barbara are just three of the incredible care home volunteers who support our care teams across England.
Whether it is youthful energy, the determination to make every day special, or previous experience in care, each volunteer brings valuable skills that make a real difference to the lives of our residents.
It is because of them that our professional care workers are able to provide bespoke, person-centered care to those they support. From activities to feedback from conversations, they are a vital part of the care we deliver.
If you would like to become a care home volunteer, contact your local Agincare care home today.