Volunteering is such a rewarding experience not only for the person volunteering but also for the person receiving the services that the volunteer is providing. I’m currently getting my ducks in a row to volunteer at a long-term care facility in my city. What I mean by getting my ducks in a row is that I needed to do a few things in order to be able to volunteer by law. Most, if not all, places that have volunteers have to abide by a strict set of guidelines set forth by the law in order to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Here’s my experience so far…
In order to volunteer here are the steps that need to be taken, please keep in mind that each establishment is different and these steps are based on my particular experience.
- Figure out where you would like to volunteer-What do you like to do, what DON’T you like to do, what are your interests, what age of people do you want to work with, do you want to work with people at all or would you prefer to work with animals, do you have a particular skill set, how much time do you have to give, what is your motive behind volunteering, are you reliable, are you able to set aside a specific amount of time each week? Etc. The more questions you can answer and be clear on, the better.
- Attend an orientation night-Most places will invite you to an orientation evening where they describe their establishment and what they do, tell you what their mission statement is and who they help, they will explain various openings they have where volunteers are needed, they’ll explain the laws, rules, boundaries, expectations and other important information as set out by the law and their business. Ask any questions you have at this point, it could be anything you want to know. For example, is there a minimum requirement for hours per week? Are you allowed to switch to a different department if you feel like the current pick isn’t working? And so on. It’s a good idea to bring a list of questions to ask at the end of the presentation. Usually at the orientation the volunteer coordinator will tell you what requirements are needed before you start and will most likely give you the required paperwork you need to complete. The things that I am required to submit are a Tuberculosis test and a Vulnerable Sector Check.
- Get your paperwork done-You can apply online for a Vulnerable Sector check and it’s way faster to do it this way. I had mine within a week or so and I didn’t have to leave my house to get it. The police stations prefer that you do it online because it keeps things less congested, it’s more convenient, faster and you aren’t wasting their time with something you could do yourself.
- Get your medical tests done-Speaking from experience this was the longest process and I’m not even done yet. I took my paperwork that I was given by the volunteer coordinator to my doctor. I was given an injection under the skin and was told to come back in 48-72 hours. This was part 1. Part 2- I went back 48 hours later and the doctor examined my arm told me it looked good and filled out the first part of my paperwork. He then told me to return in 7 days and we could do the second part. The second half of the test is the same thing inject, return, fill out paperwork. As soon as all of the testing is completed and comes back negative, I can take it, along with my police check, to the long-term care facility and start volunteering!
- Remember to be kind-This goes without saying, people can be all kinds of things. All of us have bad days, off days, say mean things, do mean things, we can be snippy and snappy and just plain cranky. Don’t let this get to you- these people need you. They depend on the kindness of others sometimes just to get through their days. Remember that some of these people have no family or have specific issues that are very difficult to deal with. A smile and a kind word can go a long way. Be the light in someone else’s darkness. They’ll feel better and so will you.
Please stay tuned for my journey, I look forward to sharing it with you.