Friday, May 31, 2013
Volume 1, Issue 4
Several LTCOPs benefit from a relationship with Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) programs (e.g. AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, RSVP). The CNCS is a federal agency that supports volunteer service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Social Innovation Fund programs. The CNCS is the “nation’s largest grantmaker for service and volunteering” and supports more than 5 million Americans in service through its core programs. Each state has a “national service state contact” and you can search for your state contact using the CNCS map.
Senior Corps connects individuals 55 and older to volunteer service opportunities in their local community. Senior Corps has three programs: RSVP, Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents. Senior Corps has local program directors that work with the volunteers to identify their skills and interests and match them with volunteer placements and assignments. There is a volunteer opportunity search feature (powered by VolunteerMatch) on the Senior Corps website and individuals can search by state or zip code and by service interest (e.g. Advocacy & Human Rights).
A few state LTCOPs report working with local RSVP stations and receive assistance with promotion of the LTCOP, networking with local organizations and volunteer referral.
RSVP needs local sponsors; therefore, some local programs may have more resources than others.
According to the CNCS website AmeriCorps VISTA members “make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency” or participate in an existing project for 8-10 weeks during the summer as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate. Non-profit organizations and local, state or federal agencies can become an AmeriCorps VISTA sponsor.
- The Idaho LTCOP has utilized AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to serve as Ombudsman Volunteer Coordinators in some local programs. The Idaho LTCOP has a standardized statewide initial certification training curriculum, but local LTCOPs manage their individual programs. Some of the local LTCOPs utilizing an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer as their Ombudsman Volunteer Coordinator have hired them in a permanent position at the conclusion of their VISTA service.
If you have questions about the RSVP program, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps or any other CNCS program, contact your CNCS State Office.
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In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative launched PowerUP!, described as a national movement to provide “leaders in the aging and disability networks the strategies and tools they need to power up their agencies’ services by tapping the skills and passion of older adult volunteers.” PowerUP! will enhance the aging and disability network’s ability to recruit, engage and empower older adult volunteers and will support individual older adult volunteers by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, skills building and information regarding wellness.
As the need for long-term care services and supports continue to rise, but funding for federal, state and local services are strained, the PowerUP! initiative encourages aging and disability agencies to utilize the wealth of experience and knowledge older adult volunteers have to offer.
PowerUP! offers free volunteer engagement resources such as volunteer recruitment materials (e.g. print ads, flyer, newsletter article, postcard, radio ad script), online recruitment messages (e.g. social media posts, volunteer recruitment website entry) and press outreach materials (e.g. article for local news media).
The Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative invites you to take the PowerUP! pledge and join the national effort to double the number of volunteers in aging services to 1 million by 2015.
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Volunteer Ombudsmen may be discouraged by the amount of reporting that is required to document their activities on behalf of their local or state LTCOP. In fact, some volunteer LTCO claim the burden of reporting and/or paperwork is one reason for leaving the LTCOP. During initial training and on an ongoing basis, it is critical to explain why submitting reports is important, how their work impacts the local and state program, what happens to their data once they submit their report and what your program data means. Explaining the purpose and importance of accurate, timely reporting may make volunteers feel more responsible for submitting their reports and feel a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment leading to better retention.
- Give them the “Big Picture.” Show how their work not only impacts the individual residents they visit, but also expands the reach of the local and/or state LTCOP and contributes to the work of a national LTCO network. For example, explain how information from their report moves from the local/state level to a report for Congress and has a potential impact on funding (via NORS data).
- Share the Data. Share local/state LTCO program data with your volunteers each quarter and highlight their individual hours of service, number of visits, cases and complaints at least annually.
- Explain their Impact. Share some de-identified case examples of volunteer LTCO work in your program newsletter, agency website, via email and/or annual report.
- Individual Cases to Systems Advocacy. Explain how your local and/or state LTCOP analyzes program data to develop a systems advocacy plan; therefore, showing how their advocacy for individual cases affects systems advocacy.
- Encourage Them to Share. During volunteer training encourage the volunteers to share difficult cases they’ve encountered or an example of successful advocacy with their peers.
- Reward Timely, Accurate Reports. Recognize the volunteer LTCO that submit accurate, timely reports (individually or publicly). If possible, each quarter enter the names of those that submitted accurate reports on time in a random drawing and reward the one chosen with a prize (e.g. $5 gift card).
Visit the NORC website for additional information regarding NORS training and the importance of sharing data.
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Recognizing the effort and impact of volunteers is important for individual volunteer satisfaction, volunteer motivation, overall program morale and volunteer retention. Here are some quick tips for providing effective praise that can be used when working with volunteers (and staff):
1. Give timely and frequent recognition. If you do not recognize the work of your volunteers they may leave the program. Make sure you recognize their work as early as possible after their achievement and frequently.
2. Praise the person, not the task. For praise to be meaningful, it is important to recognize the individuals that did the work, rather than the work itself. For example, if two volunteers organized and conducted a presentation regarding the LTCOP for a Family Council it would be more effective to say, “Lisa and Jack, your presentation was very well organized and you clearly explained the role and responsibilities of the LTCOP,” instead of saying, “The presentation was well organized.”
3. Make sure recognition is individualized. Get to know your volunteer in order to understand what motivates them and how they would like to be recognized (e.g. some volunteers may not want to be recognized publicly while others would enjoy being featured in their local newspaper).
4. Use a variety of methods. Recognize your volunteers in a variety of ways. Let volunteers know you are thinking of them by sending them birthday wishes and/or get well cards. Send thank you notes via email and handwritten notes. Highlight volunteer accomplishments in an agency newsletter. Share your appreciation in-person during a volunteer meeting (one-on-one or in front of their peers).
5. Be specific and sincere. Use the volunteer’s name, identify what the volunteer did, label the action (e.g. you were assertive, but professional when speaking with the facility staff) and/or tell the volunteer why their response/action was important and praise the action. For example, instead of saying, “great job” after reviewing a volunteer’s monthly report you could say, “Janice, you’ve submitted your monthly reports on-time for the last 3 months. That is extremely helpful as I can enter our program data and submit our program report to the state office on-time. I really appreciate your help with this.”
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The Ageless Alliance is hosting the “I Make a Difference” video campaign to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2013. The Ageless Alliance invites individuals and groups to create and share brief videos explaining how they make a difference for vulnerable elders (instructions and example video).Create a video with your LTCOP volunteers or for your program to show how their advocacy makes a difference in the lives of vulnerable elders.
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The recording, PowerPoint and materials from the "Modernizing Your Program to Attract and Retain Today's Volunteer" webinar are available on the NORC website. The webinar explains what it means to “modernize” your program, reviews current volunteer demographics, why volunteers serve, what volunteers want from their experience and how to best utilize their time, skills and expertise. Representatives from three LTCO programs share their experience regarding a variety of volunteer management practices that help them recruit, train and retain volunteers.