I recently had a mom approach me and ask me about our Nursing Home Ministry and how we got started.
Know first, that I am nothing special. Anyone can do this.
Second, this ministry has greatly enriched our lives in more ways than I could put in words.
And third, Never doubt that the power of one can change the world.
Below are some ideas that would have made our journey a little easier when we started.
1- Small Nursing homes are easier to navigate than larger ones and usually do not have the resources that larger ones do. The assisted living place where we volunteer is small. I offered to do this at another nursing home and they required back ground checks etc. I do not think working through those requirements would be difficult though.
2–The Activity Director is your friend. Activity Director’s are always looking for things to plan. They welcome suggestions and love all that we do for the residents.
3- Offer something of value. I met a gal who was trying to be a part of what a nursing home offered the residents and was told many times that her kids were too young to help in their ice cream shop, etc… Come up with ideas that will benefit them. Start with once a month and be consistent. If you desire to do more, offer weekely or bi-monthly. Many Activty Directors make schedules and it is good to get on their schedule so they do not plan something else during your time and they can get the residents ready for you.
4- Think Pre-school. Most all the activities we do would work perfectly with pre-school children. They are easy, do not require a lot of time, and are inexpensive. Some residents will put things in their mouths or take things and bring them back to their rooms so you need to be aware of this. (We did a bead craft once and a resident thought they were candy.)
5- Get another family to come alongside and volunteer with you. It helps with being consistent, they take the burden with having to always come up with ideas, and it makes it more fun. We have volunteered at our nursing home for over 11 years. Our kids have grown up doing this and it is very natural for them now.
6- Relationships, relationships, relationships. The more you visit and get to know these people, the more you will fall in love with them. Ask questions and learn about who they are, where they came from, their family, favorite colors, etc… You will be surprised at what you learn. We have met women who served in the military in WWII and men who flew in fighter jets. These are precious lives with precious stories, Ask!
7- Death happens. Just when you and your children have fallen in love, it often happens. We have grieved over this many times. It does get easier over time but is a difficult transition for children. Death is a part of life. I truly believe it is healthy for children to experience this. Talk to your kids ahead of time before beginning your ministry.
8- Use music whenever possible, especially older songs from their era or religious songs. Most nursing homes will have their own collections that you can play. Ask! One resident sang over and over the same song during the course of the year. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” will never be the same for me. Sometimes the residents who appear to not have anything going on mentally will come alive with music. It really is amazing what music can do.
(Pause music at top right)
Here are some ideas we have used with our residents:
- Puppet show (This was so successful, another nursing home close by asked if we could come and do it for their residents.
- Chair exercise class with kid songs
- manicures and pedicures- Many of these people are rarely touched other than to give meds. There is healing in touch.
- Christmas nativity with kids dressed as Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, and wise men. They just stood there and looked cute portraying the Christmas story as Christmas music played.
- Thanksgiving Trees with resident’s pictures on branches . Another time we got their finger prints to decorate it
- Sing Christmas Carols
- Parachute play
- Participate in a Veteran’s Day celebration
- Play old music of the 30’s and 40’s and dance
- play dress-up- They LOVED this. Hats and all!
- ice-cream parties
- Decorate cookies
- Look at shell collection, coin collection, or other collection, etc…
Crafts~ Remember to think pre-school
- Play-doh- make your own or store bought
- Cut out snowflakes and hang them in the activity room making a winter wonderland
- Make homemade Christmas/Valentines/Mothers Day/Easter cards and give out to residents
- Make cute things on string to hang on their walkers or doors.
- Make small floral wreaths to hang on their doors
- Make fall yarn leaves
- Hand print heart wreath (see picture above)
- Heart shaped doily flowers
- Christmas mosaic cards
- Make Christmas ornaments
- Make Salvation bracelets
- Make pictures with foam cut-outs
- Tissue paper flowers or giant flowers for Mother’s Day
- Cross painting (see picture above)
- Enchanted Learning , Pinterest , and Family Fun are great websites for kids crafts
- Bingo- let children call out
- preschool puzzles
- Relay races- Human tree trimming relay Make some up of your own.
- Play cards (Old Maid, UNO, War)
~ A BIG Thank you to Neecie for helping me remember some of these things and for all of our adventures together in our nursing home ministry~
Any ideas for blessing others? Or what do your grandparents/parents appreciate now that they are older?