Guidelines For In-Room Visits
Introduce yourself, shake hands or touch in some way if comfortable for you. Ask the resident's name, and try to remember it for future visits. Don't use a first name without asking - some residents come from a generation that was much more formal about names - always treat them with the dignity and respect their long years deserve.
Admire the resident's hairdo, or what they are wearing. Comment on possessions displayed in their room - keep in mind that most residents have given up a house or cottage for half a room, and the things you see may be treasured mementos from the past. Talk about current events - what's happening in the world, your state, town, office, home, etc. Such discussion with an interested listener gives residents valuable mental stimulation that can help them remain alert and involved. Try to find a subject of mutual interest - perhaps it is music, books, travel, sports, or children. Avoid controversial or depressing topics. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer - "Tell me about your childhood". Be patient if the reply takes a while - residents have memories to sift through before finding the one that answers your question. Share a hobby, bring pictures (large size) of animals, flowers, or travel scenes. Ask your children to join you in a visit or bring a pet. `
Try to converse at eye level - residents can becme uncomfortable looking up from a wheelchair or bed for any length of time. Sit on a chair, or ask if you may sit on their bed. When addressing someone who is hard of hearing, be sure to let him or her see your face, or lean close and speak directly into one ear. Talk slowly and distinctly - you don't have to shout. To avoid startling a blind person, speak as soon as you enter the room - don't wait until you are right next to him or her, say where you are going to stand or sit. If such a resident is ambultory, offer your arm for walking. Don't ever come up behind anyone sitting in a wheelchair and start moving the chair without warning - such unexpected motion can cause a real scare. A smile and touch can communicate your caring to residents who may not be able to speak to you or respond visibly in any way. Try to see through their disabilities and find the special person within.
Be attentive, be patient with repetition - encourage residents to share memories and experiences with you. Try to give your undivided attention to the story tellers. Respect confidences.
Watch for signs of fatigue such as labored breathing, lack of concentration, restlessness, drowsiness, inattentiveness, and be ready to leave when such occur. A 10 to 15 minute visit may be just right one day, while an hour might do another day. Use good judgement. A cheery good-bye, and a promise to come again is an easy way to end your visit - but DON'T make that promise IF you can't keep it. Arrive when expected, and, to avoid disappointment, be sure that a resident receives your message if they are awaiting your visit and you can't make it.
A resident becomes ill or agitated? Call a nurse or aide.
A resident needs help getting to the bathroom, in or out of a wheelchair or bed? Call a nurse or aide - though your intentions are good, you may not know the proper techniques for lifting and moving residents. Don't take chances.
A resident becomes upset or tearful during your visit because of a subject you feel uncomfortable with or not qualified to discuss, such as, death, financial matters, family resentment? Do not attempt to give advice . Notify the Volunteer Director/ Social Services person, Nurse or Administrator; they will see that appropriate follow- up or counseling is provided.
A resident asks for sweets, cigarettes, medication, etc? Don't offer any of these things. Check with the Nurse or Volunteer Director. Some may be allowed, but others may be prohibited due to dietary or medical restrictions. Do not rely on what the resident may tell you.
A resident asks you to remove vest or waise restraints: Do not remove or untie. Check with the Nurse. These restraints are worn to prevent injury and can be used or removed only under a doctor's order.
You see something in the facility that you do not understand or you hear something that causes concern? Talk it over with a staff member (Nurse or Volunteer Director) or the Administrator.
REMEMBER: Knock before entering a room, address the resident and introduce yourself, explain that you are a volunteer visitor. If you should learn things of a confidential nature, please keep if confidential.
Faithful Friends Nursing Home Ministry
Larry & Sandy Wasserman