Volunteer Respite Manual:
Creating Valuable Options for Family Caregivers
Authors: Easters Seals and ARCH
Released February 2012
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Table of Contents
Program Planning and Operations
Volunteer Orientation and Training
Policies and Procedures
Liability and Insurance Issues
Marketing the Program to Consumers and the Community
Federal and State Resources on Volunteerism
Volunteer Training Resources
Volunteer Management Resources
This manual draws on years of experience with volunteer services of National Easter Seals and its affiliates and of many ARCH member respite programs and services. Much of the groundwork for developing the manual was laid out in the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center’s Fact Sheet Number 18: Volunteer Respite: Valuable Resources. Topics covered include: Program planning and operations; volunteer recruitment, training and management; evaluation guidance; suggested policies and procedures; liability and insurance; and marketing. Specific training curricula are not included but suggested content for training and orientation, as well as many training resources are included.
The purpose of this step-by-step manual is to help community-based programs assess their individual needs, plan and implement volunteer respite programs, and assist state Lifespan Respite programs as they address the requirements in the Lifespan Respite Care Act to build respite capacity through volunteer training and recruitment. Interspersed throughout the document are text boxes with additional resources for reading further on that topic, highlights of National Volunteer Respite Initiatives, and examples of local volunteer respite programs. It is our hope that as state Lifespan Respite programs develop statewide systems of coordinated and accessible respite services, they will use this guide to help them directly or through their subcontracts with faith- or community-based organizations to pursue respite expansion by using volunteers in an array of respite care options for families.
From the introduction:
Increasingly, programs are turning to the use of volunteers when available and appropriate to help provide respite services, curtail costs, and improve affordability for families. Volunteers are essential to families who may not be able to afford respite, who live in geographically isolated areas with fewer resources, or who face limited access to services because of a shortage of paid providers. Additionally, volunteers are assets to organizations because they are an unpaid source of labor; with volunteers,programs can stretch limited resources to provide services to more family caregivers and care recipients.
Another reason to use volunteers is to expand the caregiver’s and care recipient’s circle of relationships. Often, the only people in a care recipient’s life are those paid to be there. Volunteers offer a unique aspect to respite, not because they are “free” but because their relationships are freely given.
However, keep in mind that volunteer respite is not free, and not every respite program has the need for or capacity to successfully organize and operate a volunteer program. Careful consideration of the resources required to successfully integrate volunteers into a respite program is key to building a sustainable program. Finding a few people willing to spend a few hours helping out will not guarantee success. Recruiting, training, supervising, and evaluating volunteers require ongoing staff time and resources.