Visiting Care Center Residents

Senior New Ways launched its Care Center Visitor Service in the spring of 2011. Senior New Ways volunteers began visiting residents of care centers from Redwood City to Santa Clara. We are now in twelve care centers of the 180 in Santa Clara County. Residents need regular visitors, and the staff are too busy being staff. Even with family and friends close by, days are very long. Isolation is significantly related to physical, emotional and social decline.


Visiting is primarily a regular friendly face that helps the older adult feel important and worthwhile. No particular skills beyond basic friendliness are necessary. No services are required beyond the visit itself. We have gone beyond conversation to music and legacy building (scrapbooks, audio tapes, videotapes).

Volunteer visitors spend from 30-60 minutes once or twice a week with designated residents, who are often recommended by activity directors or nursing staff and "matched" to the visitor. Visitors have one or two persons to visit. Most residents are in "nursing centers" or assisted living, and a much smaller number are in independent living.

We train our volunteer visitors, and visitors and residents are matched by interests. Schedules are completely flexible. Most centers require a TB test, a few require fingerprinting and a physical, along with an application, much like a staff member.

There is such a great need…

Although only 5% of older adults are in care centers… yet we have over 600 residents on rosters to be visited in the twelve care centers we currently serve, and we currently have too few volunteers. Most of those 600 residents are seen only 10 minutes per month! Even our music therapy residents receive 30 minutes of personal time per month, albeit in 5 minute increments.

Although any person over the age of eighteen is eligible to be a volunteer, Senior New Ways encourages and promotes this activity for "boomers and beyond".