I hope that my good friend, Community 360° board member and University of Nebraska at Omaha colleague, Dr. Lyn Holley won’t mind that I used her call to action for the title of this article. Our conversations most often end with her smiling and saying, Ever Onward!
I usually chuckle and respond with a hearty Ok! But as I was thinking about my writing today, those were the first words that came to my mind, Ever Onward. For the first eight months of this year, we, at Community 360° have been
celebrating 20 years of serving the frail elders living in nursing homes. But, I believe that now is the time to look ahead, to in-vision and to plan for the next 20 years.
This weekend, another class of Community 360° volunteers will graduate our training program. Included in this class are professional care staff as well. The fact that professional care staff would attend this training speaks to the not only the credibility and the richness of our training, but also to the need for more training of this kind.
Looking ahead at the next 20 years, I see what seems to be insurmountable challenges related to staffing, funding, and access. The numbers are staggering. Yet, I am hopeful. I believe that Community 360° is postured to meet those challenges in a unique way and based on our 20 years experience in recruiting and training skilled volunteers.
Skilled volunteers? Yes, skilled volunteers that have participated in training programs like Community 360° allow them to go beyond the occasional and casual visit to become an integral part of the care team. With training the skilled volunteer can assume non-medical responsibilities thereby freeing the staff for other tasks.
Is the need great? Yes! One out of every two 85 year-old persons will need a nursing home. Beginning in the year 2030, the first of 80 million Baby Boomers will reach their 85th birthday. Now there is something to think about! The need for nursing home beds will increase exponentially with each passing year thereafter until the year 2050 when all 80 million Boomers will have reached that age of 85. Programs like Community 360° are needed now to work towards changing the volunteer paradigm. At Community 360° we’re on it.
With that in mind, we are always looking for extraordinary people willing to do extraordinary things. If you want to become part of a this growing team of extraordinary volunteers, then click here. The experiences and stories you will have and hear are life changing. Just ask any of our volunteers!
Gerontologist, Author, Speaker, Educator •Dr. Paul Falkowski is the founder and executive director of Community 360º, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the frail elderly living in long-term care facilities. Using state-of-the-art training techniques, Community 360° recruits, screens and prepares people to serve as volunteers in long-term care settings. Community 360 has trained and placed hundreds of volunteers in nursing homes in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln. He is currently writing a “training the trainer” program to meet the demand for his training program. Awards: • 2011 “Nominee of the Midwestern Association of Graduate School (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Award” • “2010 Course Development Grant Recipient” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extended Education & Outreach • “New Cassel Distinguished Service Award” – New Cassel Foundation, Omaha, Nebraska - 2008 • “Volunteer of the Year” awarded by Life Care of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska - 2005 • “Ministry of the Year” – Nebraska Family Council, Lincoln, Nebraska - 1999 Paul has a Bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in Music, a Master’s degree in Gerontology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an earned Ph.D. Gerontology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. His research interests focus on volunteer programming and its impact on the long-term care facility. In addition, Paul teaches gerontology courses online. Read more from this author