Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
There is an epidemic of loneliness...
The easiest way to get started ministering to residents is to choose a facility and contact the activities director or social worker. We have data on all of Kentucky's long-term care facilities and we can help you with this. Most activities directors can tell you which residents are lonely and could most benefit from a friend. They can also tell you more about coming to offer Bible classes, gospel singing, or other activities your church might like to offer.
Below you'll find a list of ideas to get you started. Be sure to check out our Resources page too for training, materials, supplies, and lots of "extras."
Maybe your church isn't ready to take on an entire nursing home, but you still want to get involved. You can adopt just one resident- and maybe get your whole family involved or your small group!
If your church wants to ease into nursing home ministry, you might consider adopting one unit or wing of a nursing home. This would average 20-30 residents depending upon the facility.
Ready to adopt an entire nursing home? It's not as hard as you might think. You can actually make things work with just a handful of committed volunteers. Ideally, you would provide...
Many organizations want to help residents around the holidays, but they often forget about them the rest of the year! Sunshine bags can be delivered to nursing home residents in the summer. We fill ours with things like pudding cups, oatmeal cream pies, notepads, pens, hair brushes, large print word puzzle books, shampoo. lotion, socks, and tumblers. We always include a hand-written card, sometimes provided by children from our church. *Always be sure to ask the nursing home if they have items they prefer residents not receive.
At Christmas, we repeat the concept of the Sunshine Bags and call them Jingle Bags! We try to switch up some of the items.
We have found that church congregations really like to be included in the Jingle Bags, and so in November, we have empty bags available at church for families to pick up and fill with items we have put on a list attached to the bag. They bring the bags back in a few weeks so we can deliver to the nursing home residents. You can also have families shop for larger items and bring them to church wrapped and ready to be given to residents. We have purchased things like blankets, robes, electric razors, art sets, cd players, etc. *The activities director or social worker can help you with a list of items most needed, as well as making sure that the gifts to the residents who likely won't get any other presents from family or friends.
Blessing the staff is also something you might want to consider. (For more information on the work force in long-term care, check out our Culture Change page.) Early in the pandemic we provided these baskets - one for each nurses station in the nursing home. We filled them with snacks, pony tail holders, Sharpies, drink mixes, and mints. Then I added a big sign to each basket thanking the staff for working so hard to protect the residents.
Help celebrate the staff during CNA week or National Nursing Home Week. Even during the pandemic, we were able to serve lunch outdoors to the staff. A local Mexican restaurant partnered with us and made it easy and safe.
Before the pandemic, we went caroling unit by unit in the nursing home. The residents and staff loved it! We also assisted with the Christmas parties on each unit by playing music, helping pass out gifts, and visiting with residents.
Do you have any bakers in your church? This is a great way to use their talents and to bless residents and staff. Several times a year we provide homemade goodies, usually individually wrapped with a special note or card attached.
If your church is already involved in some kind of nursing home ministry, even if it's different than what we've described here, would you reach out and let us know? We try to keep track of how each nursing home is being served so we can be sure to meet our vision of having ALL long-term care communities loved and served by a church, group of churches, or individuals.