Many of you may recall when President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961 and may have even signed up as a volunteer to help provide social and economic development assistance abroad. Borrowing on this model, an initiative is underway to establish an internal national volunteer care corps to help older adults age in place by relying on the assistance of volunteers to help people manage their day-to-day living needs.
Introducing the National Volunteer Care Corps
The National Volunteer Care Corps is a government initiative run by the Administration for Community Living, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The National Volunteer Care Corps seeks to build an army of domestic volunteers to help older people live better and longer in their homes, especially if they can still take care of their primary needs. From teens, to college students, or civic minded adults, volunteers would perform the following tasks:
- Dropping off and picking up people from doctor’s appointments;
- Shopping for groceries;
- Picking up fall leaves;
- Running errands for the older person;
- Shoveling snowy sidewalks;
- Taking out the garbage;
- Making the bed;
- Mopping the floor; or
- Visiting older person for companionship and to minimize social isolation.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping someone in need, incentives are being developed, such as providing young volunteers with incentives such as high school or college credit for volunteering. Four organizations have been awarded a grant to establish the National Volunteer Care Corps. They are the:
- Oasis Institute (promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement);
- Caregiver Action Network (nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age);
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (works to build a society that values and supports people as they age by building the capacity of their members so they can help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible); and
- Altrum Institute (works to improve care for vulnerable older adults and organizations around the world celebrate achievements and inspire their people).
For more information about the Administration for Community Living’s grant to establish a National Volunteer Care Corps, click here.