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How Volunteering at a Nursing Home Can Impact Your Life




Stepping into Victoria Glen Manor for the first time, I had no idea the profound impact it would have on my life. Little did I know that accepting the role of Administrative Assistant at our Long-term care facility would unfurl into a profound journey of self-discovery, empathy, and appreciation. Reflecting on my experiences, I'm compelled to share how this seemingly small act of giving back became a pivotal chapter in my life’s narrative.


Victoria Glen Manor had always been a familiar presence in my life. My mother, who is now the activity director, has worked here for over 20 years. I have memories of walking the hallways of VGM as a young girl going to "see mum on her break." I remember always feeling a sense of empathy for the residents. Some would come up to me and touch my hair, some would hold my hand and ask me to walk with them. As a child, I would giggle when residents would hug me or ask if I was their sister. I remember joining our church group on Sunday mornings when a group of Sunday school kids would sing for the residents. And many times, later on in my life, Wednesday night manor service was often part of my calendar. There was something about being inside the manor that really left an impression on me as a young girl.


As fate would have it, just like my grand mother and my mother, I ended up working at a nursing home. While I work in the office and don't take care of the residents directly, I've come to know many of the residents and working here has opened my eyes to a whole different world. While the building itself is beautiful and has a touch of "home" to it, there's a sense of loneliness within the hallways. A feeling of longing as I walk by residents. Some will reach out their hands as I pass by, wanting to feel a touch of comfort. Others will wave and smile, and ask me how I'm doing. Those who are unable to speak their thoughts, reach up and motion for me to bend forward, and when I do I am greeted with a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of the hand.


When I first started my job here, the way I viewed the connection with the residents changed. They became less "residents" and more "people" to me. There were so many experiences and encounters throughout the day that changed the way I viewed them. Visits from their kids and grandkids. Chats with them about their spouses who have passed or conversations about their past jobs. Walks from the office back to their rooms when they got turned around. Worried phone calls from their family members. The hugs shared and thank-you's expressed in gratitude from their family members when someone passed away.

One specific situation that really impacted me was an encounter with a man in the hallway of his house. He looked extremely sad this day. Most days he would greet me with a smile, but on this specific day, I could tell he was overcome with grief and sadness. I took a minute to stop and talk with him. Tears filled his eyes as he said "I'm having a really hard day. I miss my wife." He talked about her for a few minutes, and I suggested we walk out to the Activity Room and do a puzzle together. He agreed, and the next half hour I watched as his demeanor changed and a smile came on his face as we sat in the sunshine filled room of the Saint John House, doing a puzzle together and talking about happier things.


It was then that I realized, it really doesn't take much to make someone's day a little bit better. It also hit me that I don't think other people realize how easy it is. We knock off volunteering a huge commitment and sacrifice that most people really don’t have time to do. As someone who actively volunteers at my home church, I can honestly say that volunteering for anything other than my church is very difficult (or so I thought). As a mother with two young children, time is scarce, and we don’t want to waste it. Therefore, volunteering usually ends up on the back burner and we do it when we have time. Maybe at a special event. Maybe when the kids are older. But all that has changed since I’ve realized how rewarding and fulfilling the so called “sacrifice of volunteering” really is.


Seeing the residents as people who long for connection and love really impacted the way I viewed volunteering. Wednesday night church service became something I wanted to be apart of. I WANTED to give these people something to look forward to. I wanted to make them smile and feel comfort. I wanted to bring some joy.


It doesn't take much experience other than knowing how to talk to people and make connection.


It doesn't require much time. A half hour sitting down doing a puzzle with a person in need of company and distraction was all it took.



It really isn't a "sacrifice" the way we often consider volunteering; because the reality is, the reward is so great and fulfilling and we gain so much from the experience. WE gain just as much as they do. I have never left a time with a resident feeling exhausted or stressed out or worried, and to be honest, never really missed the time that went by. Not only does the act of giving and serving feel fulfilling, volunteering at a nursing home can slow your mind, bring a sense of peace to you spirit, and calm your worries too- even if just for a short while. While you’re making an impact on them, they are unknowingly helping you, too.


In this busy season of my life, with two young kids, I have to get creative with ways I can connect with residents (and I'm talking outside of work). I get my kids involved. We come to Wednesday Night Manor Service as a family whenever we can. It's always so amazing seeing the residents light up when the kids walk into the room. Sometimes a visit from a "little coconut" as one of the residents call my daughter is all it takes to brighten their day. A small walk through the hallways to say hi before bed. Coming in on Christmas day to see those who don’t have family. I cannot wait for summer to come garden and get outside with the residents during the evenings.  


I hope this inspires someone today to take a step into the world of volunteering. Victoria Glen Manor is a great way to start. You can bring your talents/abilities here and make a world of a difference in their lives. Volunteering at a nursing home isn't just helping feed at mealtimes or moving them from the dining hall to their rooms. It can look like:


-Joining a resident during their hair appointment and keeping them company with conversation or simply holding their hand.

-Serving coffee/tea at our weekly socials.

-Sitting and doing a puzzle at our puzzle table (there's usually always someone there!)

-Playing a game of Skip-Bo or cards in the afternoon

-Reading the Bible

-Sitting with them and watching TV

-Gardening - we have a vegetable garden in the summer!

-Bringing your pets in for a walk/visit through the manor

-Coordinating playgroups with babies/kids

-Starting a book club or library service for the residents


There are so many ways you can help at Victoria Glen Manor.

Whether it's for 30 minutes or one day a year; your time, talents and smile will all make a difference in the lives of our residents.

 

 If you're interested in volunteering at VGM, please contact us at any time.

We would love to have you join our team!



 

 

 

 

 

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