- Category: Family Capers - Service Projects
- Published Date
- Written by Bryan
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Of all the service projects we have done through the years, this is the one that creates the greatest emotional response. It is both deeply rewarding and somewhat depressing at the same time. Experiencing these feelings can be uncomfortable and even cause families to avoid this type of activity. This would be a mistake since it is in these moments that hearts are impacted in significant ways. There is something profoundly special that happens in a child's spirit when they can look outside of themselves and care about someone else. The same holds true for any parent.
These poignant moments will have an immutable impact on a family.
There are many variations of the Family Service Project for visiting a senior care facility or nursing home. These variations can be adapted in any way that makes sense depending on the family size, age of the children, and temperment. The adaptations listed below can work as an outline for even further ideas.
Family Service Project Ideas for Senior Care Facility or Nursing Home
DROP OFF CARDS
Effort: Medium | Commitment: Short or Long-term
Description: This can be done as a one-time service project or a family can get a list of seniors living at a facility with their birthdays and deliver cards throughout the year as birthdays occur. On the same note, a family could commit to deliver cards for various holidays. The set up for this service project is a fun activity in itself. The family should sit down around the kitchen table a couple weeks ahead of time with construction paper or scrapbooking supplies then go to town making cards to be delivered. The cards can be generic or the cards can be made specifically for residents, if the facility can provide a list of names.
Effort: Medium | Commitment: Short-term
Description: This is very similar to the making cards one above. The family has the added fun of making cookies in the kitchen. Small boxes or simple brown lunch bags can also be decorated to package the cookies. These can be delivered directly by a family as part of one of the other variations listed or just dropped off. Be careful to check with the facility staff to check on food allergies or restrictions.
SING SONGS or READ STORIES & POETRY
Effort: Easy | Commitment: Short or Long-term
Description: Depending on how much musical talent a family has, this can involve instruments as well as singing. If a family does not have musical giftings, then reading stories and poetry is often appropriate. If reading seems a little lame, then spice it up with some drama. Be sure to match the content of the program to the interests of the audience. Check with the Activity Director about what music, poetry or stories are most liked. Obviously, the content of the program can be matched to the season such as carols around Christmas or patriotic themes around July 4th and Veterans Day.
RUN BINGO or GAME NIGHT
Effort: Easy | Commitment: Short or Long-term
Description: For the senior facilities that we contacted this was surprisingly one of their most frequent suggested ways a family could volunteer. They suggested that a family could come and help run the bingo night activity. This could be just a one-time activity or a regularly scheduled event. There is also a great need to interact with residents by playing card games or table games. This would work similarly to bingo night. It would provide children a fantastic way to learn some chess skills from experienced players.
ADOPT A GRANDPARENT
Effort: Easy | Commitment: Long-term
Description: This was suggested at one long-term senior care facility. The Director asked if we could create a "buddy" program where kids could pair up with specific seniors and develop long-term relationships. This requires a high level of commitment and safety is an obvious concern. As long as parents are allowed to supervise the visits and interactions are kept to public areas of the facilities, safety concerns should be minimized. There is also the potential that tragedy may occur and a child's heart may be broken. This should not prevent a family from doing this, but it should be noted. It is strongly recommended that parents sit down with children who want to do this and discuss illness and death. The relationships developed through this type of volunteer service can positively change a person forever.
RUN TECHNOLOGY HOW-TO CLASS
Effort: Difficult | Commitment: Short or Long-term
Description:Families today are most adept at email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and internet research. These same tools can be invaluable for residents of nursing homes and senior care facilities. They allow residents to connect with distant family and friends. A family can volunteer to teach or tutor residents on these various technologies.
- Contact the senior facility well in advance. Do not wait until a week or two before as many facilities run program schedules that are planned out for months. This doesn't mean that it shouldn't be tried but as a norm give advance notice.
- Develop a good relationship with the Activities Director for the facility. Learn the name and family information about the staff at the facility. A family can also provide good will to these people.
- Be careful with food. Get explicit permission before giving any food items to a resident. Many facilities deal with dietary restrictions or even food allergies.