Volunteering in a care home (for a medicine uni application)

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Pirate123
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#1
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#1
I have been looking through the internet to find ideas of what work experience or volunteering I should do for medicine, and one that has repeatedly come up is volunteering in a care home. I have contacted one very close to my sixthform, and I am going in on Monday to speak with them about how I can help out.

Does anyone have any experience doing this kind of thing? What should I expect? Was the experience useful and/or enjoyable?

Thanks in advance

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superwolf
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#2
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#2
I volunteer at an intermediate care centre - it's a residential rehab for people coming out of hospital, but there's a lot of similarities between it and a care home (primarily elderly patients, who've had issues with falls, dementia and other such health problems associated with old age).

I'd say the most important things to remember are:
- we're all just people - some more sick or debilitated than others, but almost everybody will appreciate a kind word and a cup of tea. Don't automatically treat them differently because they're ill or elderly (some people will be completely sound of mind, and will not appreciate being treated like a child!).
- you are not one of the carers, and it's not your job to do everything that they do. You shouldn't be doing anything you've not been trained for, such as moving and handling patients, cleaning up bodily fluids, that kind of thing.
- the advantage you have as a volunteer is that you have the time to make people's stays more human. You can take the time to have a chat, play dominoes, do whatever the person finds passes the time pleasantly.
- if you're not sure about something, whether it be your actions or someone else's, report it! It might be nothing, or it might be something potentially dangerous or abusive. Don't think that you're wasting people's time.
- enjoy yourself! If you feel a connection with someone, then it's a positive interaction for both you and them. Remember that it's ok to be getting something out of volunteering for yourself!

Those are the main things I can think of off the top of my head, feel free to ask away if you want to know anything else.
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Pirate123
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#3
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#3
(Original post by superwolf)
I volunteer at an intermediate care centre - it's a residential rehab for people coming out of hospital, but there's a lot of similarities between it and a care home (primarily elderly patients, who've had issues with falls, dementia and other such health problems associated with old age).

I'd say the most important things to remember are:
- we're all just people - some more sick or debilitated than others, but almost everybody will appreciate a kind word and a cup of tea. Don't automatically treat them differently because they're ill or elderly (some people will be completely sound of mind, and will not appreciate being treated like a child!).
- you are not one of the carers, and it's not your job to do everything that they do. You shouldn't be doing anything you've not been trained for, such as moving and handling patients, cleaning up bodily fluids, that kind of thing.
- the advantage you have as a volunteer is that you have the time to make people's stays more human. You can take the time to have a chat, play dominoes, do whatever the person finds passes the time pleasantly.
- if you're not sure about something, whether it be your actions or someone else's, report it! It might be nothing, or it might be something potentially dangerous or abusive. Don't think that you're wasting people's time.
- enjoy yourself! If you feel a connection with someone, then it's a positive interaction for both you and them. Remember that it's ok to be getting something out of volunteering for yourself!

Those are the main things I can think of off the top of my head, feel free to ask away if you want to know anything else.
Thanks so much for the reply, that is so useful!

I like to think I'm fairly good with communication, a lot of the older generation seem to enjoy talking to me on the bus (I have no idea why, I seem to just attract them and they tell me their life stories lol). Hopefully I will find it easy to talk to the people there then.

Also yeah I do have a few questions. They have people there with things like dementia and alzheimers (not sure how to spell it). I've never met people with these conditions, and I was just wondering what it is like? Do they forget who you are or say weird things? I'm not sure if this makes me sound bad or uneducated but I literally don't know what its like so any advice is appreciated

Also what would you say that you do in an average volunteering day?

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superwolf
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#4
Report 7 years ago
#4
(Original post by Pirate123)
Thanks so much for the reply, that is so useful!

I like to think I'm fairly good with communication, a lot of the older generation seem to enjoy talking to me on the bus (I have no idea why, I seem to just attract them and they tell me their life stories lol). Hopefully I will find it easy to talk to the people there then.

Also yeah I do have a few questions. They have people there with things like dementia and alzheimers (not sure how to spell it). I've never met people with these conditions, and I was just wondering what it is like? Do they forget who you are or say weird things? I'm not sure if this makes me sound bad or uneducated but I literally don't know what its like so any advice is appreciated

Also what would you say that you do in an average volunteering day?

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No problem.

If you're a good communicator then I'm sure you'll settle in fine. I was a bit nervous at first, and I had the same sort of feelings about not knowing how to handle dementia patients, but you soon get used to it. I'm hopefully getting some dementia training sometime soon, and have also found the dementia friends website useful.

With dementia it really depends on the person - some will remember you, but maybe not your name or exactly where they are. Others won't have a clue, and have to be reminded not to put cornflakes in their tea. I think the main thing is just to be calm and reassuring when necessary, think of the person as an individual rather than the illness, and remember that they'll probably welcome a chat just as much as the next person. If they're violent or verbally abusive then you'll probably get warned off of approaching them, so just take into account what the nurses or carers say, and be sensible about approaching people!

I'm actually writing out an account of a typical day in my volunteering, for other potential volunteers to look through - it's not quite finished yet, but if you like I can PM you it later today?
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Pirate123
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#5
Report Thread starter 7 years ago
#5
(Original post by superwolf)
No problem.

If you're a good communicator then I'm sure you'll settle in fine. I was a bit nervous at first, and I had the same sort of feelings about not knowing how to handle dementia patients, but you soon get used to it. I'm hopefully getting some dementia training sometime soon, and have also found the dementia friends website useful.

With dementia it really depends on the person - some will remember you, but maybe not your name or exactly where they are. Others won't have a clue, and have to be reminded not to put cornflakes in their tea. I think the main thing is just to be calm and reassuring when necessary, think of the person as an individual rather than the illness, and remember that they'll probably welcome a chat just as much as the next person. If they're violent or verbally abusive then you'll probably get warned off of approaching them, so just take into account what the nurses or carers say, and be sensible about approaching people!

I'm actually writing out an account of a typical day in my volunteering, for other potential volunteers to look through - it's not quite finished yet, but if you like I can PM you it later today?
Yes please, if you don't mind

I'm feeling a bit better about it now. I'm sure everything will be fine and if not the nurses will always be there to help as well lol

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Butterfly92xo
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#6
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#6
I used to be a carer for four years. You will most likely work along side activity coordinators, chatting with residents, making teas and coffees, companionship, etc.

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doodle_333
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#7
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#7
you will probably sit with residents, make coffees, play board games or chat if the residents are able and generally socialise

the residents levels of disability will vary, some may have no idea who you are and can be aggressive or offensive and it can be quite scary but remember that there will be trained staff to deal with these things, you should absolutely not be dealing with challenging behaviour, personal care or moving and handling

I'd say it can be a very enjoyable time, you will make a genuine difference since care staff will be very busy and often not have loads of time for residents but it will probably be quite relaxed and you will be able to take it at your own pace and do things you're comfortable with
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