The coronavirus has had an incredible effect on the healthcare industry – particularly senior living, where individuals are the most at-risk and require the most amount of care. Even with social distancing guidelines in place, volunteers have risen to the occasion across the country.

Individuals taking time out of their personal schedules have been able to help out tremendously as the industry currently faces a growing staffing shortage. Not only can they take on some of the non-medical tasks, alleviating staff and allowing them to spend their time on more pressing issues, but they are also able to provide emotional support and companionship to seniors. Social engagement is incredibly important to both our mental and our emotional health, particularly as we again, so this is something that many in care facilities may be suffering from as we continue to endure this long-lasting pandemic.

However, even with these solid benefits, there are still a few important things that you need to keep in mind when bringing on a volunteer staff.

Do not forgo the screening process

You are having volunteers come in and engage with residents, so they need to be going through the same screening process as one of your employees would. This should include a background check and any other standard protocols that you have in place to ensure that someone is suitable for the job. Even if you are desperate for additional help, it is critical that you do not skip this step.

Have a detailed onboarding program

To help your volunteers be as effective as they possibly can be, make sure that you have the right training materials in place to set someone up for success. This should include both the responsibilities and expectations for the job.

You want to make sure that a volunteer does not try to take it upon him or herself to do tasks that would be inappropriate for their role (e.g., anything that involves physical or medical assistance. Volunteers need to know what is part of their job description, and what is not. And of course, during the age of social distancing, there will be many rules and regulations that volunteers will need to be aware of and follow.

Take the necessary precautions

Accidents can occur on-site, so it is important that you discuss any potentials with your insurance provider. A risk management plan is necessary, at the very least. You should also be sure that require your volunteers to sign a waiver during their onboarding process. This will

minimize any liability should something happen on the job. By taking care of all of these steps, you will set your volunteers up for success.


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