National Healthcare Volunteer Week is a nationwide effort to urge people to serve as volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities, hospitals, and communities recognize volunteers and celebrate the service, dedication and commitment of healthcare volunteers.
National Healthcare Volunteer Week was established in 1974 to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers across the country, and has become a week dedicated towards recognizing and thanking volunteers who lend their time and support to causes they care about in their hospital and community.
Since it’s origin, however, the original emphasis on celebrating volunteers has widened. The week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities, as well.
Volunteers are the backbone of our hospitals and health systems. Their service to patients and communities helps improve care and promote collaboration among hospitals, health systems and community groups.
This year National Healthcare Volunteer Week is held from April 15-21st, and the theme of this year is “Volunteers Are The Heart Of Our Team.”
National Healthcare Volunteer Week also celebrates and recognizes volunteers, and is an opportunity to recognize the integral role volunteers play in advancing patient engagement and quality care.
THE BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING: FACTS AND INFORMATION
- Studies have found a direct correlation between volunteering and better health, including lower mortality rates.
- From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, there are several links between volunteering and health benefits.
- Volunteers spent a median of 52 hours on volunteer activities during the period from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015 (52 hours for men, 50 hours for women).
- Of those who have or are currently volunteering for an organization, a majority of them say that they began volunteering because somebody asked.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 23% men said they volunteered, while 30% of women said they volunteered.
- Youth whose parents volunteer are 3 times more likely to volunteer regularly themselves. And those who volunteer as youth are twice as likely to continue volunteering when they are older.
THE BENEFITS OF SENIOR VOLUNTEERING
While the people and organizations who rely on volunteers certainly benefit from the assistance, studies show that the volunteers themselves have much to gain from these experiences. From physical to mental health, participating in volunteering activities can be especially beneficial for seniors.
Signing up to volunteer with a local organization can alleviate many of these concerns. The Senior Citizens Bureau reports that regular volunteering can give seniors a sense of purpose you may start to miss when you’re no longer able to work, or your children are grown. Seniors will find they may feel more productive and useful, which in turn improves self-esteem and well-being.
Volunteering can also keep seniors more active. While some types of volunteering may include a degree of exercise, even desk jobs can keep seniors active by encouraging just keeping a schedule, and simply getting out of the house more often.
Working in group settings also provides seniors with much-needed social interaction. Developing new friendships and maintaining conversations with other volunteers or members of the community that your organization is serving is so beneficial.
GIVING BACK: THE WAYS SENIORS CAN VOLUNTEER
There are a number of ways seniors can find volunteer opportunities in their communities. To get involved, one can search online for volunteer opportunities in their town; many organizations greatly appreciate having help, and seniors will benefit from being involved and active in something that gives back to others.
Some examples include:
- Community Projects: communities need volunteers to help out by cleaning up parks, staffing events, or serving on a local committees.
- Religious Organizations: contact local religious groups, and seek to get involved at your place of worship. Most of these organizations rely on volunteers to help in their offices, plan social functions and perform community outreach.
- Libraries: local libraries may have many volunteer opportunities: stocking shelves, checking out books and other items, even participating in reading and educations programs for children.
- Schools: schools rely on the volunteerism of others. One may offer to tutor, volunteer to be a lunch monitor or even a classroom assistant; helping out at a local elementary school is rewarding and enjoyable.
- Veterans Organizations: if your loved one is a veteran, or veterans run in your family, helping out with local veterans groups is highly rewarding. Things such as assisting in sending care packages overseas or collecting donations towards military families in need.
- Homeless Shelters Or Food Banks: giving back to those greatly in need in your area by spending time sorting through donations, serving meals, or organizing food drives at your local shelters or food banks.
- Animal Shelters: animal rescues need volunteers desperately. Helping to help walk dogs, care for the animals, or even just play with the pets to help them feel loved and assist with socialization.
Celebrating your volunteers doesn’t have to be limited to National Volunteer Week. Keep them motivated and appreciated all year long with gestures of appreciation! Take time each month to personally thank your volunteers, no matter how long or how often they’ve been volunteering their time and services. A simple thanks always goes a long way.
Unicity Healthcare recognizes the critical role that volunteers play in all healthcare organizations. Without volunteers, accomplishing the goals and mission of most medical, assisted living or senior care facilities would be extremely difficult, if not near impossible.