Make a Connection Program Volunteer
Volunteers play a crucial role in both companionship and helping people age in the place of their choice. Research has been able to link social isolation and loneliness to be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Tiwari, 2013).
At the same time, nearly 100% of Canadians, including people living with dementia wish to remain living at home as they age (Pandemic Perspectives on Aging in Canada in Light of COVID-19: Findings from a National Institute on Aging/Telus Health National Survey).
The Make a Connection program provide volunteers with opportunities to build companionship with people living with dementia and help to facilitate safe aging in place. Visits can be virtual, by telephone, or in-person.
As a volunteer, you will receive training and guidance to prepare for this important role and are matched with a client based on aligning schedule, language, and, where necessary, accessibility or proximity to one another. Visits are typically 20 minutes to 1 hour on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and if virtual are on a variety of platforms such as the phone or Zoom, depending on the client’s preference and capabilities. The activities that make up these visits can vary from conversation, listening to music, reading aloud, sharing photos, or going for a walk, to helping a person living with dementia to learn how to use technology for reminders or wayfinding. Whichever the activity, you will find this to be a rewarding and meaningful experience.
Depending on the volunteer’s skills and availabilities, you may be occasionally requested to assist with simple household repair tasks or provide technological fit-up for the people living with dementia in their area.
Primary Role and Responsibilities:
o Communicate with caregiver as needed to arrange the details surrounding visits (date and time, materials needed, etc.)
o Communicate with supervisor to provide updates on clients, forward questions, and offer feedback
o Prepare and host remote visits or provide in-person visits
o Coordinate and prepare any particular items needed for your visit (photos, music, videos, a list of the client’s interest, etc.
o Meet and engage with client in the preferred setting (phone, Zoom, in person etc.)
o Provide troubleshooting support to those experiencing technical difficulty
o Engage with participants and maintain enthusiasm, compassion, and patience
• There is also an opportunity to provide assistance on one-off, short term projects which may include:
o Assistance with technology set up and training (setting up a new tablet, Google Home, Alexa, universal TV remote, etc.)
o Setting up the home for optimal navigation and function (e.g. printing and posting signs, labels, and lists; organizing kitchen space and cupboards; setting up a “memory centre”/white board/calendar, etc.)
o Basic home modifications for volunteers with home repair experience (e.g. installing grab bars and railings)
Qualifications and Skills:
• Professionalism and a positive disposition with excellent interpersonal skills
• Compassion, understanding and awareness of dementia
• A valid (within last 6 months) Vulnerable Sector Check is required, which we will help facilitate
• Reliability – able to honour scheduled commitments
• Discretion – must maintain confidentiality of all participants
• Bilingualism an asset
For virtual Visits:
• Tech-savvy, with the ability to independently troubleshoot common/minor technical issues such as audio/visual connectivity disruptions
o Reliable access to both internet and email
o Knowledge of/experience with Zoom or other online platforms is an asset
o Patience and compassion when working with others who are not tech-savvy
Selected applicants will submit a volunteer application form, followed by an interview and reference check as part of the application process with the Volunteer Coordinator. Successful applicants will be provided with onboarding and role-specific training.
How to Apply:
Interested applicants should complete an application form on DSORC’s website https://dementiahelp.ca/volunteer/.
Virtual and in-person
1750 Russell Road
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