E-platform of voluntary learning materials in order to foster synergies with projects of another regions
For senior care organizations/clubs etc.
Information to help process the engagement of volunteers into the organisation, for example:
How to find volunteers?
There are several ways for senior organisations how you can reach out to potential volunteers and find the right people for your organization:
Collaborate with other organizations: Partner with local schools, colleges, and other organizations to reach out to potential volunteers. You can also attend community events and fairs to promote your volunteer opportunities and recruit volunteers in person.
Utilize social media and internet:
- Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to advertise your volunteer opportunities and reach a wider audience. You can also use these platforms to connect with local community groups and organizations that might be interested in volunteering with you.
- Advertise on volunteer websites: Many websites allow organizations to post volunteer opportunities for free. These websites can be a great way to reach potential volunteers who are specifically looking for opportunities to give back.
- We suggest you always start by utilising your local connections – e.g. local pages of your city on FB, social media of your organisation and websites that reach volunteers from your own country. This way you are more likely to meet successful candidates and maintain long-term cooperation with volunteers.
Reach out to your network: Your existing network of supporters, employees, and volunteers can be a valuable resource for finding new volunteers. Encourage them to spread the word about your organization’s volunteer opportunities and ask for referrals from friends, family, and colleagues. You can do so by for example by sending out information email. Also posters at the entrance to your facility can attract volunteers.
Host or participate in a volunteer fair: You can host or co-organise a volunteer fair to bring together potential volunteers and organizations in your community. This can be a great way to showcase your organization and its volunteer opportunities, as well as connect with other organizations and build relationships.
Connect with volunteer coordinators: Depending of the already existing infrastructure in your area, there might be volunteer coordinators, that connect volunteers with organizations or share volunteer opportunities.
Remember that clear and effective communication is key when recruiting volunteers. Make sure to clearly explain what your organization does, what the volunteer role entails, and how volunteers can get involved.
How to select the suitable ones?
Selecting suitable volunteers for your senior organization is an important step in ensuring a positive and productive volunteer experience. Here are some steps you can follow to select the right volunteers for your organization:
- Define your volunteer needs: Clearly define and advertise the tasks and responsibilities of the volunteer role and what skills and qualities you are looking for in a volunteer. This will help you identify the best candidates for the role.
- Review applications and resumes: Carefully review the applications and resumes of potential volunteers to ensure they meet the requirements for the role. Consider their previous experience, education, and any relevant skills or interests.
- Conduct interviews: Schedule an interview with potential volunteers to get to know them better and assess their suitability for the role. This is an opportunity to ask questions, discuss the role in more detail, and assess the volunteer’s motivation and commitment.
- Check references: Ask for references from previous employers or volunteer organizations to verify the volunteer’s work history and get a sense of their work style and abilities.
- Assess their fit with your organization: Consider how the volunteer’s values, personality, and communication style align with your organization’s culture and mission. You want to ensure that they are a good fit with your team and that they will be comfortable and motivated in the role.
- Provide training and support: Once you have selected your volunteers, provide them with the training and support they need to succeed in their role. This will help them feel valued and confident in their volunteer work.
For more tips and detailed description you can also consult our booklet: D.T1.3 Creation of the organisational framework for cross-border volunteering (E-concept)
What should the organisation reflect on when seeking volunteers?
When seeking young volunteers, senior organizations should be mindful of several key factors to ensure a positive and productive experience for everyone involved:
- Understanding their motivations and expectations: Young volunteers may have different motivations and expectations than older volunteers. For example, they may be looking for opportunities to build their skills, try out and gain experience, while older volunteers may be looking for a more structured or meaningful volunteer experience. Understanding the motivations and expectations of young volunteers can help you better match them with appropriate roles and responsibilities.
- Providing clear guidance and support: Young volunteers may need more support and guidance in their volunteer role, especially if they are new to volunteering. Providing clear instructions, regular feedback, and opportunities for training and development can help young volunteers feel confident and capable in their role.
- Creating a safe and inclusive environment: It’s important to create a safe and inclusive environment for all volunteers, regardless of age, social or ethnical background, sex and sexual orientation. This means promoting a culture of respect, providing clear policies and procedures for behaviour, and ensuring that all volunteers feel comfortable and valued in their role.
- Utilizing technology: Young volunteers may be more comfortable with technology than older volunteers, so utilizing technology can be a great way to engage and support them. For example, you could use online tools and platforms to communicate with volunteers, provide training and resources, and track their progress.
- Encouraging leadership and creativity: Young volunteers are often eager to take on leadership roles and contribute their ideas and perspectives. Encouraging young volunteers to take on leadership roles, such as organizing events or leading projects, can help them feel more engaged and invested in their volunteer work.
By being mindful of these factors, senior organizations can ensure that they are attracting and engaging young volunteers in meaningful and productive ways that are beneficial for both the organization and the volunteers.
Possible activities with volunteers
There are many activities that volunteers can participate in at a senior care home to enhance the residents’ quality of life and well-being. Here are some ideas.
- Art and craft activities: Art therapy and craft activities can be great for seniors with dementia, depression, or other health conditions. Volunteers can help residents create art or work on crafts such as knitting, crocheting, or painting.
- Music and dance: Music and dance can help seniors to express themselves, improve their mood, and stimulate their memory. Volunteers can help lead sing-alongs, play musical instruments, or participate in dance classes.
- Reading and storytelling: Reading and storytelling can be a great way to improve seniors’ literacy and provide mental stimulation. Volunteers can help residents read, listen to stories, or participate in storytelling activities.
- Games and trivia: Games and trivia can help seniors to stay mentally active and improve their memory. Volunteers can help lead games and quizzes, or participate in games of cards, chess, or other table-top games.
- Classes and learning activities: Young volunteers are in ideal position to assist seniors with learning about new technologies and how to use them. They can help them to use video calls for their family or write an email. During one on one session there is also space to teach at peace comfortable for the learner. Other option, like languages, are also an option, especially for multilingual seniors, where they can teach volunteers.
- Active alternatives – Outings and excursions: Outings and excursions can help seniors get out of the (care) home and explore the community. Volunteers can accompany residents on walks, visits to local attractions, or trips to local parks or gardens. If the health of the seniors allows, they can also do a day trip that was a great success in our project!
- Gardening and nature activities: Gardening and nature activities can be great for seniors who enjoy being outside. Volunteers can help residents plant flowers, tend to the garden, or participate in nature walks.
- Exercise and physical activity: Exercise and physical activity can help seniors maintain their physical and mental health. Volunteers can help lead exercise classes, accompany residents on walks, or assist with physical therapy sessions. In these cases experienced volunteers are needed. Or sports instructors with experience with seniors or physical therapy students who can assist seniors. Safety must be a priority during this activity.
- Pet therapy: Pet therapy can be a great way for seniors to connect with animals and improve their mood. Volunteers can bring their pets to visit residents, or help care for the pets of residents who are unable to care for them.
- Living history: old people have their own experiences on stories that are now in the history books. Sharing them can be both valuable for the old people and young people. This activity requires sensitivity as some information is easier to share than other and can also bring up sad memories or trauma.
These are just a few examples of activities that volunteers can participate in at a senior care home. The specific activities will depend on the needs and interests of the residents, as well as the resources and facilities available at the care home. It is very useful to listen to the residents and ask them what kind of activities they are interested to. This is the most straightforward and simple way how to learn which activity might be successful.
Benefits of volunteers for the senior organisations
There are many benefits for senior organizations when working with volunteers, including:
- Increased support for programs and services: Volunteers can provide additional support for programs and services offered by senior organizations, allowing them to reach more people and provide a higher level of care.
- Improved morale and quality of life for residents: Volunteers can help improve the morale and quality of life for residents of senior care homes, by providing social interaction, support, and companionship.
- Enhanced community engagement: By working with volunteers, senior organizations can build stronger relationships with the communities they serve and raise awareness of the challenges faced by older adults.
- Access to new skills and perspectives: Volunteers can bring new skills and perspectives to a senior organization, allowing it to expand its offerings and reach new audiences.
- Cost savings: Using volunteers can help a senior organization save money on salaries, benefits, and other costs associated with hiring paid staff.
- Increased volunteer satisfaction and loyalty: When volunteers feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, they are more likely to stay engaged and continue volunteering for the organization over time.
By leveraging the contributions of volunteers, senior organizations can make a significant impact in the lives of older adults, and build stronger, more resilient communities.
Are there any risks that senior organisations should be mindful of when working with volunteers?
Senior organizations should be mindful of the following risks (examples only) when engaging volunteers in their activities:
- Liability: There is a risk that volunteers could cause harm to residents, visitors, or property. Organizations should have liability insurance and clear policies in place to manage these risks. Proper training of the volunteers is always necessary.
- Safety: Volunteers may not be sufficiently trained in the specific safety procedures required for a senior organization, and there is a risk that they could cause accidents or harm to residents. Organizations should provide clear guidance and training to volunteers to minimize these risks.
- Confidentiality: Volunteers may have access to sensitive information about residents, such as health information or personal details. Organizations should have clear policies in place to manage the confidentiality of this information and ensure that volunteers are aware of their obligations.
- Screening: Organizations should screen volunteers thoroughly to minimize the risk of harm or any inappropriate behaviour. References from previous jobs/volunteering experiences might be very helpful.
- Quality of service: Organizations should be aware that volunteers may not have the same level of skills or experience as paid staff. Organizations should provide clear guidance and training to volunteers to minimize these risks. Usually, volunteers have a different scope of duties than paid staff, where they are using different skills and contribute more socially than medically to the well-being of the seniors.
- Burnout: Organizations should be aware of the risk of volunteer burnout, as volunteers may become exhausted or disenchanted with their role if they are not supported properly. Organizations should provide regular support and feedback to volunteers to minimize this risk.
By being aware of these risks and taking steps to manage them, senior organizations can effectively engage volunteers and make the most of their contributions, while protecting the well-being of residents and ensuring the long-term success of their programs. In order to minimise the risks, each organisation should train the volunteers properly before letting them work with seniors. It is also important to assign a person volunteers can always consult in case they are not sure about something and that is supervising their activities.
What organisational aspects of working with volunteers need to be taken into consideration?
- the presence of a volunteer coordinator in the organisation;
- conducting an initial interview with volunteers;
- targeted training for volunteers;
- written contract with the volunteer;
- existence of a volunteer job description and awareness of it towards
- to volunteers;
- requesting references from the volunteer (optional);
- existence of a manual, handbook, code of ethics for volunteers;
- possibility to get support, advice, supervision in case of problems;
- reimbursement of costs related to volunteering;
- receiving awards, recognition, non-financial rewards for the work done
Basic obligations of the organisation under the law:
- Enter into an oral or written contract.
- If volunteering abroad, the contract must be in writing.
- If the volunteer is a child under the age of 18, the written consent of the legal guardian is required.
- If a child under 18 years of age, to provide reasonable non-threatening conditions and instruct the volunteer and his/her representative about the risks.
- Ensure/arrange for safety during the activity.
- Provide special equipment – aids or clothing if necessary for the performance of the work.
- If requested by the volunteer – issue a certificate of duration, scope, and content of the volunteer activity and its evaluation.
You can download the contract template here.
Benefits of volunteering for senior organizations for youth
Practical information on volunteering with senior citizens:
How to start the cooperation with the senior centres?
Here are some steps that a youth organization can follow to start a successful collaboration with a senior centre:
- Research: Research senior centres in your area and identify those that align with your organization’s goals and values. Look for centres that have similar missions and/or also cooperate with volunteers.
- Reach out: Contact the senior centres you have identified and introduce yourself and your organization. Explain your goals for the collaboration and express your interest in working together.
- Discuss needs: Meet with representatives from the senior centre to discuss their needs and identify areas where your organization can support them. Consider the strengths and skills of your youth volunteers, and find ways to match their skills with the needs of the senior centre.
- Develop a plan: Work together with the senior centre to develop a plan for the collaboration, outlining the specific activities, goals, and responsibilities of each organization.
- Training: Provide training and orientation to your youth volunteers on the specific requirements and procedures of the senior centre, and ensure they understand their role and responsibilities.
- Monitor and evaluate: Regularly monitor and evaluate the collaboration to ensure it is meeting its goals and making a positive impact. Be open to feedback and make adjustments as needed to ensure the collaboration is successful.
- Foster relationships: Encourage your youth volunteers to build relationships with the residents of the senior centre. Foster a culture of mutual respect and support, and encourage volunteers to engage in meaningful activities that benefit both the seniors and the youth.
Which activities to offer?
Youth organizations can offer a variety of activities to senior organizations to cooperate and create a positive impact. Here are some examples:
- Intergenerational programs: Offer programs that bring together youth and seniors, such as intergenerational mentoring, tutoring, or storytelling programs. These programs can foster meaningful relationships, enhance mutual understanding, and provide opportunities for skill-building and personal growth for both, young volunteers and seniors.
- Social events: Organize social events, such as concerts, dances, games, or outings that bring youth and seniors together for fun and engagement.
- Volunteer opportunities: Provide youth volunteers to assist with tasks such as meal preparation, recreational activities, or transportation for seniors. This can help lighten the workload of paid staff and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement.
- Health and wellness programs: Offer health and wellness programs, such as exercise classes, nutritional education, or stress-management workshops, to support the well-being of seniors.
- Technology support: Offer technology support, such as computer classes or technical assistance, to help seniors stay connected and engaged with the wider world.
- Cultural exchange programs: Offer cultural exchange programs that allow youth and seniors to share their cultures, traditions, and experiences.
By offering these and other activities, youth organizations can create meaningful and mutually beneficial collaborations with senior organizations, enhance intergenerational understanding and support, and contribute to the well-being of seniors and the wider community.
Guidelines for work with seniors and topics to discuss with senior organisations before starting volunteering activities
Here are some guidelines for working with seniors and topics to discuss with senior organizations before starting volunteering activities:
- Training: Provide training and orientation to volunteers on the specific requirements and procedures of the senior centre, and ensure they understand their role and responsibilities.
- Respect: Ensure that your youth volunteers understand the importance of respect for elders and their experiences. Emphasize the importance of active listening, kindness, and empathy.
- Health and safety: Discuss the health and safety protocols of the senior centre and ensure that volunteers understand the procedures and precautions they need to take to keep everyone safe.
- Privacy and confidentiality: Emphasize the importance of privacy and confidentiality and ensure that volunteers understand the policies and procedures for protecting sensitive information.
- Roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of volunteers and ensure that everyone understands their tasks and what is expected of them.
- Communication: Establish clear communication channels between the youth organization, senior centre, and volunteers to ensure that everyone is aware of any updates or changes.
- Monitoring and evaluation: Regularly monitor and evaluate the collaboration to ensure it is meeting its goals and making a positive impact. Be open to feedback and make adjustments as needed to ensure the collaboration is successful.
These are just a few guidelines to consider when working with seniors and starting volunteering activities. There are many sources of information and guidance available, including government websites, non-profit organizations, and academic journals that can provide more information and support. It is always advisable to follow the guidelines of the national agencies and organisations while engaging in volunteering.
What are the benefits of volunteering in senior organisations for youth?
Volunteering with seniors can be a valuable and enriching experience for young people. Here are some of the benefits:
- Intergenerational connection: Volunteering with seniors provides young people with the opportunity to connect with older generations and learn from their experiences and perspectives.
- Personal growth and development: Volunteering can help young people develop new skills, increase their confidence, and improve their emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
- Community engagement: Volunteering with seniors can help young people become more engaged with their community and contribute to the well-being of others.
- Career development: Volunteering can provide young people with valuable experience and skills that can help them in their future careers.
- Empathy and understanding: Working with seniors can help young people develop a deeper understanding of ageing and its challenges, and increase their empathy and compassion towards older adults.
- Increased sense of purpose: Volunteering can help young people find a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, and contribute to their overall well-being and happiness.
- Cultural exchange: Volunteering with seniors from diverse backgrounds can help young people learn about different cultures, customs, and perspectives.
Volunteering with seniors can be a mutually beneficial experience for both the seniors and young people involved. By engaging with older generations, young people can learn from their experiences and perspectives, and contribute to the well-being of their communities. Additionally, volunteering with seniors can be a fulfilling and enriching experience for young people, providing them with opportunities for personal and professional growth.
For individual volunteers
Practical information sheet contained for example:
How to contact senior organisations?
If you are interested in volunteering with a senior organization, here are some steps you can take to get in touch:
- Research: Start by researching senior organizations in your area that you are interested in volunteering with. You can search online, ask for recommendations from friends and family, or reach out to local volunteer organizations for information.
- Contact the organization: Once you have identified a senior organization you are interested in volunteering with, reach out to them through their website, email, or phone. Introduce yourself and express your interest in volunteering.
- Attend an orientation: Many senior organizations offer orientations or informational sessions for prospective volunteers. Attend one of these sessions to learn more about the organization and the volunteer opportunities they offer.
- Complete an application: If you are interested in volunteering after attending an orientation, complete the organization’s volunteer application. This may include a background check, reference check, and training sessions.
- Start volunteering: Once your application is approved, you can start volunteering with the senior organization. Be sure to communicate with the organization about your availability, interests, and any special skills or abilities you may have.
It’s important to remember that senior organizations may have different requirements for volunteers, so it’s a good idea to be flexible and willing to work with the organization to find a mutually beneficial volunteer opportunity. By following these steps, you can find a senior organization to volunteer with and make a positive impact in your community.
Topics to be considered before contacting senior home (possible scope of engagement, my motivation, fears and challenges)
Before contacting a senior home to volunteer, it’s essential to consider the following topics:
- Goals and expectations: What do you hope to achieve through volunteering, and what are your expectations for the experience? Knowing your goals and expectations can help you find the right place to volunteer and ensure that you have a positive experience.
- Skills and abilities: What skills and abilities do you have that you can bring to the volunteer role? Consider what you are passionate about and what you enjoy doing, as this can help you find a volunteer role that you will enjoy and be good at.
- Time commitment: How much time are you willing and able to commit to volunteering? Some senior homes may require a set number of hours per week, while others may be more flexible. Consider your schedule and other commitments when determining your availability
- Health and safety: Before volunteering in a senior home, consider your own health and safety. You may be required to have certain vaccinations or to undergo a background check, depending on the organization.
- Training and support: Consider what kind of training and support will be provided by the senior home. This may include orientation, training sessions, and ongoing support from staff or other volunteers.
- Purpose and values: Consider the purpose and values of the senior home and what they do. Research the organization and its mission to ensure that you are comfortable with their approach and values.
By considering these topics before contacting a senior home to volunteer, you can find an organization that is a good fit for you and help ensure that you have a positive and meaningful experience as a volunteer.
Where to find information about volunteering?
You can find information about volunteering opportunities for young people in the European Union by visiting the following websites:
- European Youth Portal: This website provides information on various topics related to youth, including volunteering. You can find information on European programs and initiatives that promote youth volunteering and search for volunteer opportunities in various countries.
- Eurodesk: This is a network of information centres that provides young people with information on European policies and opportunities, including volunteering. You can find information on available volunteering opportunities, as well as resources and tools to help you get involved.
- Volunteer Centres Network: This network is composed of volunteer centres and organizations from various countries across the EU. You can find information on volunteering opportunities in different countries and get in touch with local organizations that support youth volunteering.
- National Agencies for Erasmus+: Each country in the EU has a National Agency for Erasmus+, which is responsible for implementing the Erasmus+ program. You can find information on volunteering opportunities available through the Erasmus+ program and contact the National Agency in your country for more information.
- Each country usually has their own websites that are in local language and provide updated information on volunteering opportunities within the country.
It’s worth mentioning that these are just a few examples, and there might be other sources of information that are more relevant to your specific needs and interests.
What risks to consider when working with seniors?
Working with seniors can be a rewarding experience for both the seniors and volunteers, but it is important to be aware of the risks involved. Here are some risks to consider:
- Health and safety: The health and safety of seniors and volunteers is a top priority. Risks include exposure to infectious diseases, slip and fall accidents, and other health and safety hazards.
- Privacy and confidentiality: Confidentiality is a major concern when working with seniors. Risks include the mishandling of personal information, unauthorized access to sensitive information, and breaches of privacy.
- Legal and ethical issues: Working with seniors involves a range of legal and ethical issues, including issues related to informed consent, autonomy, and dignity.
- Liability: The senior organization and youth organization may be liable for any incidents that occur during volunteer activities, including accidents, injuries, or other incidents that may arise.
- Burnout: Volunteering can be physically and emotionally demanding, and it is important to be aware of the risks of volunteer burnout, especially for youth volunteers.
- Intergenerational conflicts: Working with seniors and youth can involve intergenerational conflicts, especially when it comes to attitudes, values, and beliefs.
- Inadequate training and supervision: Without proper training and supervision, volunteers may not have the skills or support needed to effectively carry out their responsibilities and may not be able to provide adequate support to seniors.
It is important for senior organizations and youth organizations to be aware of these risks and take steps to minimize them. This may involve conducting background checks on volunteers, providing training and supervision, and having clear policies and procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of seniors and volunteers. By being proactive and taking the necessary precautions, senior organizations and youth organizations can ensure a positive and safe experience for everyone involved.
For member organizations or the network
Discussion forum for exchange of ideas, experience, motivation, best practices with other institutions active in the field
Projects section – information on possible funding opportunities
Training section – documents, presentations and methodology for training of volunteers