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Volunteers are vital to the success of Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs as they support programs in having a strong presence in facilities and personal connection to residents. In 2018, the network had 6,163 certified volunteers that worked alongside 1,297 paid staff to resolve 194,516 complaints initiated by residents, their families, and other concerned individuals. 

The information below includes materials to celebrate the work of volunteers during this time of social distancing as well as resources for programs to help recruit, train, and retain volunteers.

VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION WEEK

The theme for National Volunteer Week, April 19-25, 2020, is Celebrate Service. The theme is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers in our communities. The Ombudsman program could not be its best without the volunteers who help carry out the mission of advocating for long-term care residents. Find resources and additional information on National Volunteer Week on the Points of Light website.

SUGGESTIONS FOR CELEBRATING VOLUNTEERS FROM A DISTANCE

During this time of social distancing it may be challenging to show appreciation for the volunteers in your program. In fact, it is likely more important now than ever to maintain contact and connection with volunteers and share your appreciation for their service. Consistency in gratitude is more important than the size of the gesture, from casual thanks to formal gifts, there is an abundance of ways to show your appreciation for all the work that volunteers do for the program. Below are suggestions and examples for celebrating National Volunteer Week from a distance.

  • Send a Message to Volunteers – Your message can either by email or snail mail and it can highlight the work of volunteers in your program. Last year, a volunteer coordinator from Minnesota sent this message
  • Contact the Local Newspaper – The Pennsylvania Ombudsman Program of the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc., recognized their volunteers at the DuBois Nursing Home by sharing a message and photo which appeared in the local newspaper. 
  • Create a Video - Shazia Sultan, MPH, Managing Local Ombudsman, Brazos Valley Council of Governments (BVCOG), created this video to thank her volunteers. 
  • Host a Virtual Recognition Event – Invite your volunteers to join a virtual recognition event using a video conference platform to celebrate program successes, acknowledge their contribution, and connect with their fellow volunteers.
  • Send an e-card – Send an e-card to show your appreciation.

SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE PUBLICLY - CONTACT NORC

Thank your volunteers and recognize their work publicly by sending NORC brief messages of appreciation for their dedicated advocacy (e.g., examples of their advocacy, years of service, photos). We will post your message on our website and highlight the submissions on social media. Email your submissions to ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT RESOURCES

Volunteer Management Three-Part Webinar Series: Successful Practices in Volunteer Recruitment, Training, and Retention

These webinars include examples from programs across the country and time for brainstorming and sharing from all participants. The recording and PowerPoint slides from Part I and II are available here. The final webinar in the series will be held on April 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET. Register »

Recruitment

Recruitment is the first step to building a strong network of volunteers, it is not just about getting the largest number of people to join, but thoughtfully choosing quality members who have the traits and drive to foster a long-lasting partnership. Below are resources on volunteer recruitment, these resources are also available on the NORC website.

NORC Ombudsman Compendium, Chapter 1 - Recruitment

Volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Representative Intake Toolkit

Training and Management

Training is also an important part of the process of maintaining a cohesive and productive volunteer program. Training and learning are a constant process, so always encourage volunteers to continue taking opportunities for webinars or other training to stay informed and updated. Below are resources on volunteer management and training, these resources are also available on the NORC website.

NORC Ombudsman Compendium, Chapter 2 – Training

Volunteer Management Conference Calls and Webinars

Additional Ombudsman Training

Retention

Careful recruitment and effective training are critical in developing a successful volunteer program but having the tools and strategies to enhance retention of skilled volunteers is what makes a sustainable volunteer program. One of the top three reasons that volunteers cite as a reason for leaving is the need for more support or contact with the lead agency/program manager. Knowing this, there are several methods that will help retain and maintain a skilled and qualified volunteer program. Below are resources on volunteer retention and recognition, these resources are also available on the NORC website.

NORC Ombudsman Compendium, Chapter 3 - Retention

Join our LTCO Volunteer Management Network Listserv!

NORC moderates a free, private listserv for Ombudsman programs that manage volunteers to promote discussion among your peers and share challenges and successes regarding Ombudsman program volunteer management. NORC staff will respond to questions and highlight resources, as appropriate. The group is only open to Ombudsman program representatives that manage volunteers, it is not open to volunteer Ombudsman program representatives, family members, residents, or facility staff. We encourage you to join the listserv and connect with your peers across the country. To join, contact Carol Scott cscott@theconsumervoice.org, Ombudsman Specialist, National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

For additional information and resources on volunteer management and opportunities, visit the NORC website.

Read archived issues of NORC Notes. If you have a question, are not able to find a resource, or want to share training materials or program practices, please email ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

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