Virtual Volunteers of St Joseph’s Home: Closing the Gap amidst Physical Distancing

The COVID-19 pandemic has sprung forth micro-volunteering and virtual volunteering opportunities.

Since onsite volunteering are still suspended and visitations have been reduced, the Home is quieter. To bring life and vibrancy into the Home, our programmes staff have stepped up on creative and remote ways for residents to connect with our community.

In May 2020, St Joseph’s Home piloted our first inter-generational tele-befriending project. Our nursing home residents paired up with youth volunteers from Singapore Polytechnic and River Valley High School. Across six months, the two generations have gotten to know one another through video calls and online games. 15 residents and 20 youth volunteers have benefited from the programme so far.

Arts-based programmes have also been shifted online. In a bid to keep to distancing protocols, volunteers would pre-pack custom materials kit and residents get individual tablets to use. Each call typically lasts 30-minutes to an hour.

With this new format, volunteers have more time to converse with residents. They are also more able to customize activities based on individual resident’s needs and interests.

Furthermore, volunteers are able to set aside short amounts of time per week to engage residents in bite-sized activities. This flexibility has attracted youth volunteers, who can now choose specific projects based on their skills, interests and availability.

Groups that typically prepare games and performances for our residents have also taken to tele-conferencing platforms to continue delivering interactive sessions. They have shared that going remote has brought about increased flexibility and creativity.

One example is Couples for Christ. In the past, they would come monthly with themed games and performances. Now, they host old-time favourites as well as new games such as Bingo, Pattern Matching and The Price is Right online.

“Couples for Christ is made up of families of three or four. Ever since we have moved our monthly visits online, we have invited each family to anchor a particular game, song or dance. This has allowed us to engage more families. It also makes it more manageable for them,” commented Joanna Lumanlan, the Outreach Lead of Couples for Christ (Singapore).

Another group, Holy Cross Golden Disciples, has taken the opportunity to explore new performances. Early this year, they put together a skit featuring the latest safe distance protocols. In February 2021, they did a live reading of a story, retelling how the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals got their place.

“We are continuously inspired by the creativity and dedication of our volunteers. St Joseph’s Home is actively connecting with new and existing volunteers to see how else we can inject life into our Home through a silver screen,” says Shereen Ng, Assistant Manager of Community Partnership and Communications.

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