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Credentialing of Leaders of Volunteers Revisited

Credentialing of Leaders of Volunteers Revisited

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Thu, 12/12/2019

I am very excited to read this article! It says it is available in December and it is mid December... how can I access it?

Many thanks,

Tue, 12/17/2019
By 2050 there will be close to 100 million older adults in the U.S. One out of four will need long-term care, i.e., nursing home care. Currently, there are some 1.3 million job openings for direct care workers that is expected to balloon to about 2.3 million openings over the next two decades. In the meanwhile, research is showing that the nursing home resident needs more than medicines to experience quality of life. They need "person-centered" care. The dilemma is that the over-worded staff do not have time to provide that level of personalized attention. However, properly screened and trained volunteers can provide personalized attention. The volunteer does not replace paid employees. They are not providing medical cares. However, their presence will lead to reduced use of psychotic drugs to manage people, fewer incident rates of falls, and so on. The person managing those volunteers should have demonstrated experience and carry a credential just as the one would expect from the director of nursing for example or for the director of social work. In addition to providing relational care, the volunteer workforce becomes a conduit for attracting new workers. My thinking is getting your CVA is a step in the right direction. We're really up against the wall in long-term care and we need to shift the paradigm of volunteers being unreliable and not sustainable.

Tue, 12/17/2019
Hi Paul Thanks for your thoughtful comment. While we talk about trends, I don't think we're great, as a sector, as looking far into the future about how to future-proof volunteering and volunteer management. You are right, this is something we need to think about. You mention that the CVA is a 'step in the right direction.' Would you have any thoughts on what else we could do to demonstrate our expertise? Nurses and social workers provide clinical care. Leaders of volunteers do not. We have to demonstrate a set of skills that span many professions and areas of expertise. HR, events, marketing, counselling and debriefing, finance management, program development, strategic planning... how do we develop a credential, or evidence of a base-level expertise to satisfy those employing us, or volunteering with us, that we have the skills and knowledge to do an exceptional job. And how do we also continue to ensure we are opening the doors to volunteer management and not shutting it off to those who are just beginning if they don't yet have the knowledge and skills to obtain the CVA (you need a minimum 3 years experience, and a higher than base-level knowledge to obtain it)? In other news you might be interested in... a Health Service CEO here in Australia, Toby Hall (St Vincent's Health Australia) just wrote an article on his thoughts about the future of healthcare. It includes more care in the home and local services, and less hospitals. I think this adds further opportunities for volunteers to provide quality of life activities for home-based patients, and we need our leaders of volunteers to have the appropriate risk management skills etc. to ensure we do this effectively and sustainably. Thanks again for your comments Paul. Tracey :)

Wed, 12/18/2019
Tracey, Thank you very much for your feedback, as this helps me as well clarify my own thinking on this topic. First, let me explain my statement, “…getting your CVA is a step in the right direction.” By saying this, I meant that in order to raise the credibility of one’s professional stature in the eyes of employers, the paid staff, the volunteers they manage and the public for that matter, getting one’s CVA, in my opinion, is necessary. I recently completed a study of 52 nursing homes in the U.S. Midwest. Of the 52 nursing homes, 8 had full-time dedicated managers of volunteers, 3 of which had completed some formal training in volunteer management. The remaining 44 nursing home volunteer programs were managed by people who were hired as recreation therapists and activities directors who reported spending two hours or less each week on the volunteer program. Of that group, 11 said they had completed some formal training in volunteer management. The purpose of the study was to explore what if any relationships exist between volunteer programming and quality measures. The results showed significant relationships between individualized activities involving volunteers combing hair, doing nails, helping with meals and the reduction of psychotropic medication usage, incident rates for urinary tract infections, and depression. With all this said, while the volunteers are not providing clinical care, they are having a significant impact on the quality measures by which nursing homes are evaluated. My argument then, in light of what is coming, i.e., the age wave, let’s ramp up the volunteer workforce and let’s hire a professional, a CVA to lead them. Using professional care staff to get someone dressed or comb their hair, in my opinion, again, is a misuse of resources. Trained volunteers can do these tasks and actually change it from a “daily routine” to a relational nonroutine event. In addition, the volunteers become recruiters and maybe even future paid staff. Employers need to see quantitative data that shows empirically how the volunteers are impacting the organization. The heart-warming stories are great, but, in my opinion, they want to see the numbers. How are volunteers impacting our operations? How are they impacting our outcomes? How are they impacting our budget? So, in my world, it’s connecting volunteer activities with quality measures. I look for exemplar programs and highlight them on my blog. Baycrest Health is at the top of my list. I do work for Baycrest and they are not benefitting me in any way. I spent four days there and just had my socks knocked off. The Baycrest volunteer workforce is fully integrated into the workforce. The volunteers are assisting paid workers in nearly every department. Volunteers are involved in the program develop, developing individualized activities, collecting data, and interviewing and training new volunteers. There are other great efforts as well. In addition to knocking on the doors of leadership and policymakers, I’ve created a new course that I’ll be teaching this coming spring for a Midwest university, “Volunteer Management and Aging Services.” I’m hoping this could be the first step towards a degree in gerontology with a concentration in volunteer management. Finally, tenacity is a crucial ingredient for shifting paradigms. I kid around but I think there is some truth to it, over the past 25 years, I’ve become like Worf, the Klingon character from Star Trek. I’ve grown this boney plate across my forehead that comes in handy for breaking down walls. Paul

Thu, 12/19/2019
Paul, Thank you for your choice of topic! This is a wonderful addition to the field "In addition to knocking on the doors of leadership and policymakers, I’ve created a new course that I’ll be teaching this coming spring for a Midwest university, “Volunteer Management and Aging Services.” I’m hoping this could be the first step towards a degree in gerontology with a concentration in volunteer management."