For those who want to visit with folks living in nursing homes and other long-term care settings, but are not sure how to go about it, or what to do once you get there, consider linking with TAO programs as a Program Host. This volunteer position is a flexible, fun and creative approach that allows participants to be a part of the artistic experience and to connecting meaningfully with this deserving, yet under-served, group of community members.
Program hosts decide when, where and how often they work with TAO. Our hosts regularly check our online calendar of programs to decide where to link in. When they find a program they want to attend, they contact us (TAOvolunteers@gmail.com) to make arrangements. We send them confirmation, program information, directions and contact info. Once at a location, they work with the TAO artists and facility staff to assist in any way they are comfortable. That might mean:
- finding cups and water for musicians
- going to the nurse’s station to be directed in wheeling residents to and from the day room or dining room where the TAO program is taking place
- passing out songbooks, percussion instruments, or art supplies
- greeting and conversing with residents
- taking part in the arts experience, at whatever level of involvement is comfortable
- encouraging participants to take part in the arts experience, often looking to the activities director for cues on who/when/where and how to best approach individuals
- sincerely encouraging, listening to and appreciating the residents
- thanking the artists on behalf of Tidewater Arts Outreach
It looks like a lot, but they are natural acts that evolve throughout the course of the hour spent in program. The time always passes quickly.
The real beauty of the project is that it is creative and spontaneous in nature. Artists are reacting to the cues received from participants, and programs evolve based on the participants’ reactions and inputs. Our best programs are client-centered in every aspect. We utilize the talents of our artists to facilitate arts experiences that result in creative responses (singing, dancing, drumming, storytelling, painting, etc) from those we serve.
It is a great way to participate in the lives of these special needs residents. It’s fun and very rewarding. It also is meaningful to TAO and our outreach. We rely on the goodness of community members to be a part of the community life at these long term care locations, and we use the arts to build community and create common ground.