London home reaches out to student volunteers
A recent Christmas carol singalong at Meadow Park Care Centre in London was also used as a forum to create volunteer opportunities for local high school students.
As part of a yearly tradition, about 20 students from nearby Laurier high school came to Meadow Park on Dec. 5 to sing Christmas favourites with residents. A local lady who volunteers at the home played piano, while students helped residents by holding up songbooks and turning pages for those needing assistance.
The students also helped bring residents to the activity room, and spent time chatting with them and passed out cookies and juice after the singalong.
At the end of the afternoon, one resident had big a question for the students.
“We had one resident who spoke up at the very end and tried to convince all the students to come in and volunteer,” says Robyn Lyttle, the home’s acting activity co-ordinator.
“A couple of (students) approached the resident that encouraged them to volunteer and they said they wanted to come back to volunteer.”
Some of the students who were at the singalong enjoyed the experience so much they’ll be at the home next week to help with a bingo, says Lyttle, adding each student will share a card with a resident when they play the game.
Lyttle emphasizes the importance of engaging students in volunteer opportunities. From her experience, when students are introduced to the long-term care setting and get to spend time with residents, they enjoy it.
Encouraging students to volunteer at homes is also a valuable tool in helping to shatter myths some might have about life in a long-term care home.
“If they’re in a conversation with somebody who says something negative about long-term care, they’re going to be able to counteract this and say, ‘No, that’s not what happens.’”
Students from Laurier have come to the home in the past to participate in other activities with residents — bowling, games and friendly visits, Lyttle notes.
Aside from fostering community support, these types of events help develop bonds between seniors and a younger generation, says Lyttle.
“Instead of seeing the same recreation and nursing staff, (it brings) that unique atmosphere and spunk into the home,” she says.