Student Volunteering Week celebrates the benefits which volunteering brings, both to the students and to the individuals and organisations who receive their time. We think that volunteering in care homes and any older persons’ setting has huge advantages, such as:
1. It improves student wellbeing
Volunteering is an altruistic activity, which by definition makes you feel better. Volunteering in a care home takes this one step further, as the students have the opportunity to work with a different generation and learn from them.
An older person has a lifetime of experience to share, and will enjoy the opportunity to tell their stories and impart their wisdom. For some students, this may be their only interaction with older people if they do not have grandparents, and developing an intergenerational relationship is a wonderful skill to have.
The benefit of knowing that you have provided comfort and companionship to a lonely person, and made a difference to their life, is incalculable. Equally, having the viewpoint of an older person, who sees things from a different perspective, may assist students with worries in their own life.
2. It develops students' employability
The act of volunteering in itself looks great on a CV, but volunteering in a care home also gives students an opportunity to develop the ‘soft skills’ which employers value so highly.
Listening skills and communication skills will undoubtedly be developed by spending time in a care home. Listening to stories, introducing yourself to an older person and building their trust, are vital life skills which can be taken into the world of work in the future.
Technology gives an additional way in which students can assist older people and add something extra to their CV. By introducing them to smart phones, hubs, and tablets, students can open up a new world of communication to older people who may be struggling to get to grips with it. Not only will this teach the student how to communicate and impart knowledge, it will help the older person to have a new way in which to communicate.
3. Students are making a positive contribution to the wider community
Students and younger people are often considered by older generations to be self-absorbed, irresponsible and permanently glued to their smartphones. Volunteering gives them an opportunity to dispel this myth. By giving their time to volunteer in a care home or any other setting for older people, students can show that they want to support other generations and the wellbeing of everyone in the area.
4. It can lead to a rewarding career
If the volunteering placement is successful, and the student sees the benefits outlined above, they may decide to pursue a career in care. This can take many forms, from Managerial roles to research, nursing, activities, the possibilities are endless!
Standard Wise International is a strong advocate of intergenerational lives – in fact, ‘Intergenerational’ is one of the 5 ‘Is’ which run through everything we do. Many writers have talked about the benefits of Intergenerational Living (SAGA wrote a blog about it, and we think that Student Volunteering is an ideal way for older and younger people to interact in a smaller way, but one which is no less impactful for both parties.
Furthermore, these interactions garner mutual respect and understanding, and will contribute to reversing the culture of ‘Ageism’.
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