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Dedicated to helping Activity Professionals with the daily operation of their department.
by Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, Executive Director of DH Special Services.
The Activity Director's Office
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Let Debbie answer your
Activity Questions
Volunteer Management
for the Activity Professional

Overseeing the volunteer program is one of the many responsibilities delegated to the activity
professional. The activity professional assumes this responsibility, often with minimal training or
guidance. The process of organizing and managing a corps of volunteers requires planning,
organization and monitoring. To guide the activity department in establishing a volunteer program or
upgrading a current program, consider the following steps.....

Preparation : Before bringing in the first volunteer - the volunteer manager should define the scope and
parameter of the volunteer program. Will the volunteers be introduced into other departments, like
nursing or social services?  Discussion with the other departments should be conducted to determine
their interest and to identify appropriate volunteer opportunities.  Secondly, a budget for the volunteer
program should be defined.  Absorbing volunteer costs into the activity budget is not good practice and
tends to rob both departments of appropriate funding.  The volunteer manager should establish
organizational systems such as sign in books, application forms and what kind of training program will
be offered.  Finally, the responsibility for the department should be incorporated into a job description
and included into the job title.

Recruitment : Simply saying "HELP!" is not an effective recruitment message. Attracting volunteers to
your center is more effective if you establish a formal recruitment message. Clearly describing the
need within your facility and how a volunteer can help is an effective means to seek interest.   Targeted
recruitment seeks particular people for particular jobs, while general recruitment seeks interested
parties who just want to help.   Targeted recruitment should be tailored to the person being sought.  For
example, if seeking a male volunteer to assist in leading a men’s group, one would aim recruitment in
areas where men gather (the VRW or Elks or local hardware store).  Professional recruitment
materials should be created.  With today’s computers and special papers, brochures can be easily
created.   With PowerPoint, an interesting volunteer recruitment program can be created which would
include photos of current volunteers in action.

Selection : Volunteers should be managed similar to paid staff. Every potential volunteer should receive
a formal interview and go through the screening process. To accept the first person off the street
without any consideration is dangerous and a disservice to the volunteer and facility.  Volunteers
should be placed in specific jobs, according to their motivation and need to volunteer.   The interview
determines the volunteer’s needs which are important to meet, if you want the volunteer to stay.

Orientation and Training: A formal volunteer orientation procedure should be in place, with an
orientation checklist. The orientation can be provided on a 1-1 basis but should be provided all the
same.  Providing the volunteer with a handbook and written guide will ensure there is an
understanding between the volunteer and the organization.   Infection control, HIPPA, confidentiality, as
well as understanding the special needs of the elderly population should be discussed with new
volunteers.  A signed acknowledgement of the orientation and receipt of materials should be kept on

Motivation and Retention : Since volunteers do not receive monetary reward for their work, they should
be rewarded through other means.  All volunteers seek some sort or “payback”, even if they deny it.  
Some people volunteer for the social contact, some because they like to feel needed and useful, others
are looking to fill a time void.  The volunteer manager needs to understand each volunteer’s motivating
force and structure the volunteer opportunity to meet that need.  Placing a volunteer in an unsatisfying
volunteer job will cause the volunteer to lose interest and quit.  

Recognition : Formal and informal recognition should be provided consistently. There is opportunity for
volunteer recognition every time the volunteer arrives to complete their volunteer job.  Friendly
greetings, offering of coffee or refreshments, and appreciation for their time and effort should be
standard approaches for every volunteer visit.  Sending birthday or holiday cards, introducing a
recognition bulletin board, including them in the facility newsletter, and inviting them to facility in-
services are on-going means to make the volunteer feel a part of the home.  The annual Volunteer
Luncheon or recognition event is often looked forward to and attended by many, but it is the day to day
appreciation that leave them feeling truly satisfied in their volunteer experience.  

Keep in mind this final quote from an unknown source..
"Their niceness will let you recruit a volunteer the first time,
but only your competence will let you keep them...."      

Volunteer Links

E Volunteerism - The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community

Energize - for leaders of volunteers

Hugs for Health Foundation

Points of Light Foundation - Volunteer Center National Network

Servenet - the premier website for service and volunteering

Volunteer Match - a volunteer job listing service

Volunteer Today - The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

Volunteer Management Certificate Program from Washington State University
About Debbie

Debbie Hommel, BA, CRA, ACC, is
the Executive Director of DH Special
Services. She is a Certified Activity
Consultant on State and National
level, with over twenty-seven years of
experience in providing direct care
and consultation to long term care,
medical day care, assisted living,
and ICF/MR facilities throughout New
Jersey, New York, Maryland, and
Pennsylvania. She is an experienced
trainer and workshop presenter,
conducting a variety of seminars
throughout the Tri-State area for the
Activity Professional, Administrator,
and allied healthcare professional.
Debbie Hommel is an active member
of Activity Professional Associations
on State and National levels. She is
ACC certified through the NCCAP.
She is a founding member of the
New Jersey Activity Professionals'
Association, serving terms as Vice
President and President. She
received the Weidner Lifetime
Achievement Award in 1994 and the
Monmouth & Ocean County Activity
Professionals Life Achievement
Award in 1999.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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