pitching inWhen people pitch in, it makes a big difference. More can be done. Individuals may not have to work as long or as much. Something can become social instead of solitary.

Health care, long-term care, family relationships can all benefit from people pitching in. Community can be created of people with similar needs or supporting similar causes. Awareness can be raised for a need, a support mechanism, and much more.

The theme for National Nursing Home Week 2013 is Team Care – Everyone Pitches In.  What a great theme!

During this week, nursing homes across the US will be having special events, sharing what happens in their community, be reaching out to the community, and (with luck) will have community groups pitching in to assist them in their efforts.

Who needs to pitch in?

  • Do the staff need to pitch in? Of course. Approaching work with a smile and being fully presence is so important. The extra moments you spend individualizing care make someone’s day. Your observational skills are a lifeline to those in your care.
  • Do the residents need to pitch in? Yes! Just because someone is in a nursing home doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to a quality life for themselves or others.
  • Do families of those receiving care need to pitch in? It greatly improves the quality of life when they do. Checking in on physical and social needs is important. Sharing memories or photos as well as current events in which they are interested is vital. Families knew a person before they required nursing care and can provide a perspective different than the staff.
  • What about the community? What about individuals? They are needed!

But if I’m not family or an employee, how can I pitch in?

  1. Start by considering your abilities, gifts, passions and talents. Pitching in with a strength and love is more effective for all.
  2. Look for a regular block of time you can set aside. Building relationships takes consistent, repeated interaction to develop trust and a relationship. So whether it is every Wednesday, or every other Sunday afternoon, or the first Monday of each month, a regular time helps.
  3. Contact nursing facilities in your area. Visit them see if your strength and available time matches their need. Visiting with the staff and touring will let you know if it is a place you can pitch in (volunteer).
  4. Apply and be trained as a volunteer at the selected facility. Each building has its own procedure from screening and training volunteers for the protection of all involved (including the volunteer.)

Other options

Be a regular visitor of family members, former neighbors, or friends that are in a nursing home. It provides a fresh face with whom to socialize. If they enjoy sharing an activity (playing a game, having coffee, sitting outside) and it is appropriate, join them.

Some organizations (religious groups, civic groups, etc.) regularly provide services to nursing homes. Be a part of your groups activities. Explore the intergenerational opportunities your group can offer.

Sign-up for regular community events held in a nursing facility. It might be an educational series, an intergenerational series, or an open house.

Do what you can. When everyone pitches in, the world becomes a better place.

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