Nursing Home Ministry

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:37-40)

If you are looking for an opportunity to teach your children to serve and to unselfishly give of themselves, a nursing home may be the perfect place. The needs are so great.  Whatever your particular gift, you will find the opportunity to use it with these dear people. When you see their faces literally light up with a smile or when someone finally warms up to you after months of earning their trust, or when they cry over some small gift your brought them, you will be the one who feels blessed.

Pray about this and seek God's will for your family. There is probably no way to completely prepare you or your children for what you will see if you have never been in a nursing home.  I can only say that it will get easier.  Always remember to talk with your children about the things they see and hear.   It may not be easy at first.  In the beginning my children and I both wondered at times if this was the place for us, but we are glad now that we hung in there and met this new challenge. My children now know the blessing of serving.  They have learned compassion and understanding for the elderly.  They have also developed confidence in themselves for meeting this challenge and learning the skills needed to help.  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galations 6:9)

If you are interested in volunteering at a nursing home, I strongly recommend contacting the Sonshine Society for a Free Power Packet. This includes a training guide, samples of large print materials and informational material on the Sonshine Society. This material would be helpful for you to read with your children before you get started. When we got started in this ministry, we did not know of this resource and knew absolutely nothing about nursing homes or the elderly.  This is not the easiest way to start.  Take advantage of this wonderful resource. The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy  this ministry.

After you look through your Free Power Packet from Sonshine Society, I would suggest contacting the activity director of a nursing home close to your home. Choosing a nursing home close to your home makes it easy to stop in often. Ask if you and your children can observe a few activities or assist with one before you fly solo. It is very helpful to watch someone with experience to see how they interact with the residents.

Be creative.  Think about how to use your particular gifts as you serve.

Here are a few suggestions on areas that you could serve at a nursing home:
(Some of these would be great for one on one activities, others would be great for group activities, and some would work well for both.)

Games (e.g. checkers, tic-tac-toe, bingo, bean bag toss, etc.)
Read to them - Many cannot read.
Visit - Sometimes this means more than anything.
Pray with them
Share the gospel
Write letters for them
Scripture reading
Arts and crafts
Nails - They love polished nails!
Singing - This can be done with them or for them as a group activity. (I have read that residents love
    this!  This, unfortunately, is not my gift.)
Plays & skits performed for them
Adopt a grandparent
Pet therapy (check with the activity director first)

These are special areas you may want to serve:
(Ask for a list of residents who have little or no visitors, new residents, or birthdays for the month. If the activity director has time, ask if she will tell you a little about the resident before you visit.)

Welcome gift & visit with a new resident - Remember, this is not an easy time for them.
Birthday basket - Decorate a basket a fill it with items from a dollar store. (e.g. socks, stuffed
     animal or doll, Bibles, jewelry, perfume, deodorant, lotion, etc.) Always ask a nurse or the
     activity director before you give a resident anything to eat. Some have special treats they like
     while others may not have anything at all because of diet restrictions or health.
Christmas Gifts - This would be a great project for a homeschool group or church.  Make up gift
    bags using colored lunch bags and fill them with little gifts. Remember, never give a resident any
    type of food or candy without first checking with a nurse or activity director.


The Nursing Home Companion by Pauline Innis
Life Worth Living by William H. Thomas, M.D.
Reminiscence by Carmel Sheridan
With Faces to the Evening Sun by Richard L. Morgan
With God's Oldest Friends : Pastoral Visiting in the Nursing Home By: Henry C. Simmons,
    Mark A.  Peters
Web Sites:
Faithful Friends Nursing Home Ministry
Sonshine Society
Tammy Cobb's Nursing Home Ministry
Call or write for your Free Power Packet! (SPECIAL NOTE: The Sonshine Society has requested that when ordering your FREE Power Packet that you include that you found out about them through Tammy Cobb's Nursing Home Ministry site.)
The Sonshine Society
Box 327
Lynnwood, Washington 98046-0327


                                                                                   Tammy Cobb

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