Home Editor's Pick How to Become a Nursing Home Volunteer

How to Become a Nursing Home Volunteer

by EG
volunteer in a nursing home feature

Are you looking to volunteer in a nursing home? Lucky for you, the process of volunteering is generally quite simple, depending of course on any regulations that the nursing home might have. What’s more, nursing home staff appreciate the help as much as the residents themselves.

During my time working in a nursing facility and other long-term care facilities, volunteers were usually family members who would come in to visit their loved one and simultaneously help out by engaging with others, helping pass meals, etc. Many other volunteers would come in to help Activity Directors through games, singing, or playing music.

Here is how you can go about preparing to volunteer your time and energy for others.

Can I be a nursing home volunteer near me?

If you’re asking this question, the short answer is “almost certainly.” Every organization loves a good volunteer, and nursing homes are no exception. Follow these steps outlined below to learn more.

Determine the Requirements 

Every nursing home is going to have different requirements for volunteers. Your first step is to visit your nursing home and see what requirements they may have in place. 

Most requirements are quite simple. Many consist of the basics: 

Enjoy being around older people. The nursing home will want volunteers who will be welcoming and kind to the residents. They don’t want people who will play favorites or not spend time with certain residents. Treat everyone with respect and dignity. 

Age requirements. As with most volunteering opportunities, you probably need to be of a certain age to volunteer. If you do not meet the minimum age requirement, perhaps you could accompany an adult to help with volunteering under their direct supervision. Adults can often bring in children as well, and residents love to see young faces running around!

Play games. Senior homes need people who are able to play games, specifically card games or any game that will test the intellect of the residents. Being skilled, competitive, but not too competitive will stand you in good stead with the nursing home. 

Responsible. Are you honest and trustworthy? Can you look someone in the eye and respond to them? Can you safely maneuver a wheelchair around and help residents to avoid slips and falls? Exhibiting responsible behaviors is key to being a good volunteer. 

Volunteer Duties in a Nursing Home 

Each nursing home will have its own duties. You may be asked to shout out bingo numbers, help tidy up residents rooms, or just spend time with the residents and interact with them while the nurses care for them.

Some of these homes use advanced software like Housing Association Software to manage the busy nature of the work. Tech-savvy volunteers could also work “behind the scenes” helping the business side of a nursing home with work of this nature.

You’ll want to build a relationship both with the residents and with the nursing home staff. Show up on time, dress neatly, be flexible, and be prepared to help out in any way that you can. 

Nursing Home Volunteer Training 

Some nursing homes may require training to volunteer. Training is simple, and probably specialized, depending on the seniors and the nursing home they inhabit. If you work specifically in hospice care, having training will help you better interact with residents and their families. You’ll need to have empathy as well as know the right things to say. Because hospice is difficult on everyone involved, having the proper training will help you as the volunteer better help the people you work with. 

Alternative Volunteer Work 

therapy dog volunteer
A therapy dog visiting a man in a nursing home (Air Force photo).

Not all volunteers have two legs! As pet therapy becomes more and more popular, people enjoy seeing and interacting with all sorts of animals. Dogs are generally the first choice, but having a friendly, well-trained cat will make a cat lover’s day. Find out if your pet qualifies for volunteer work and bring them along to help support and encourage nursing home residents. 

Pay a Visit to Your Local Nursing Home

If you want to volunteer in a nursing home, your first step is to take a step inside the door and see what they need. After that, it’s up to you, but remember that volunteering is fulfilling and enjoyable work and an opportunity to learn more about others. 


Tatiane Lutfi January 25, 2022 - 9:11 am

Hi, my name is Tatiane and I live in Hillsdale, NJ and I’d like to do a volunteer in Nursing Home, but I don’t know what I need to do. Please, can you help me? Thank you so much!

Derrick January 25, 2022 - 9:32 am

Hi, Tatiane. You should find the nursing homes in your area and just reach out to them. Unless they are facing covid restrictions, they should welcome the help.

Bek Tran December 18, 2021 - 1:35 am

Hi there
i am interested in volunteer in nursing home. But i do not know how i can apply for it. Could you please provide me some inf

Derrick December 20, 2021 - 8:33 am

Just call around to nursing facilities in your area and ask if they’re looking for volunteers. COVID has changed a lot of things, so don’t be surprised if they ask if you’re vaccinated.

Cat September 26, 2021 - 4:52 pm

Hi It’s my first time trying to find volunteering opportunity for nursing facilities near me. Can you guide me or send me some info? I am free on the weekends. Thank you.

Derrick September 27, 2021 - 9:23 am

Cat, not much to guide on here. Reach out to some area nursing facilities and see if they’re accepting volunteers. Many are facing staffing shortages, so I’m sure the help will most often be well-received.

Colleen Thews March 28, 2021 - 2:57 pm

I am interested in volunteering at a local nursing home or assisted living home. I would be available at least two days a week to do whatever it is needed. I have experience in caring bed ridden patients from when I was in the Airforce and am a retired surgical technologist would is certified in CPR

adan January 11, 2021 - 12:35 am

Hello, i live in california and i would like to volunteer can you please provide me with some info. thank you and happy new year

Derrick January 11, 2021 - 8:31 am

Hi, Adan. I would just call nursing homes in your area to ask. It might be a tricky time with COVID, but you never know. If you need a starting point, reach out to the Area Agency on Aging in your county. Find it here: https://www.elderguru.com/resources/california-senior-services-and-information/


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