Volunteer training – motivations for volunteering with older people

Support for Volunteers  

10 volunteers attended a July session on their motivations for volunteering with older people, what preconceptions they had and how this compared to the realities. Here’s a small selection of some of their reflections

The realities when you started volunteering: The Positives

  • I feel I made a difference
  • I am verbally told that my visits are appreciated
  • forming and developing the relationship
  • the connection has formed into a friendship
  • The befriending makes me think – by anticipating the person’s needs and how to make the situation better
  • I like that who I visit is a storyteller and swears! She is reversing the stereotypes
  • It’s a two-way experience, my older person has taken me under her wing, and she looks out for things for me to do

Some of the challenges,

  • me being too accommodating
  • there are things that can be improved regarding the home, but how do I make the suggestions, how far does my help go?
  • communication
  • learning what really is ‘help’ e.g. I took a paper, but my older person’s family doesn’t want them to see how negative things are
  • not being there to fix them, wanting to make everything better
  • learning to ‘read’ the person, i.e. older person says don’t worry about coming and it seems kind, but I push through and she always seems happy to see me
  • worried about it becoming too demanding or that the person becomes too dependent on me

What have we learnt about ourselves?

  • I am a better listener than I thought I was
  • I like the flexibility, don’t have to be committed to the same night every week
  • it has to work for me