Befriending/Mentoring - MS Society of Canada: The Friendly Visiting Volunteer Program

The Friendly Visiting Volunteer Program

The Friendly Visiting Volunteer program is designed to provide an informal support program for persons with multiple sclerosis  (MS) residing within the continuing care continuum (CCC) (long term care, supportive living and home environments) through the development of a comprehensive, trained volunteer network.

This program is a way of providing support, increasing awareness of community resources, engaging in shared activities, and in some cases providing a means of respite care for caregivers of persons with MS.  The Friendly Visiting Volunteer Program does not constitute the development of a professional therapeutic relationship and is not a method of providing personal care.  A Code of Caring has been developed for this program and is organized around four fundamental principles: 

  1. Respect for the dignity and autonomy of persons
  2. Responsible caring for the best interests of persons
  3. Integrity in relationships
  4. Responsibility to society and to the Mission of the MS Society

A friendly visiting volunteer is someone who has been appropriately screened in accordance with National Risk Management and volunteer screening policies, who has been adequately oriented and trained in the role of a friendly visiting volunteer by the MS Society, and who has agreed to abide by the Code of Caring.

 

Friendly Visiting Volunteer Program Goals

1.  To expand and complement existing Outreach Friendly Visiting services to residents with multiple sclerosis who live within the continuing care continuum (CCC)

2.  To provide people with multiple sclerosis (MS) opportunities to interact with a member of the community that is outside of the family and the health profession.

3.  To promote a sense of dignity and worth.   

4.  To reduce social isolation that a resident “may” be experiencing

5.   To provide support & companionship to residents and offer appropriate activities

6.   To provide information about multiple sclerosis, the MS Society of Canada, and appropriate community resources

7.   To increase the MS Society’s awareness of resident’s needs and/or issues

Attributes of a Visitor

Friendly Visitors can be young, old or middle-aged.  They can be men or women, employed or unemployed, and have little or a great deal of formal education.  With appropriate orientation, support and training the volunteer will be able to enhance their visiting skills.  The attributes of a good visitor are:

  • Desire to provide support to persons with MS
  • Excellent communication and listening skills  (For example, an ability to be friendly, genuine and really listen to what is being said)
  • Excellent relationship development skills (For example, an ability to accept persons with disabilities as they are)
  • Ability to set and maintain appropriate boundaries  (For example, an ability to respect confidences)
  • Ability to be comfortable and purposeful in engaging with and visiting residents who have diverse levels of disability. 
  • A visitor is also trustworthy and reliable

 Orientation and Training

  • Overview of MS Society of Canada:  General volunteer orientation with the Community Connections Coordinator
  • Overview of Multiple Sclerosis (MS):  Training conducted by Community Connections Coordinator
  • Overview of Continuing Care Continuum:  Training conducted by Community Connections Coordinator
  • Friendly Visiting:  Training conducted by Community Connections Coordinator
  • Introduction to Friendly Visiting:  Accompany the Community Connections Coordinator or experienced Friendly Visiting Volunteer on visits
  • The continuing care centre may require the volunteer to attend the centre’s volunteer orientation.

The Friendly Visitor’s Responsibilities

Certain responsibilities should be understood and accepted before becoming a Friendly Visitor.  You must be prepared to:

  1. Attend Friendly Visiting Program volunteer training.
  2. Endorse and represent the MS Society of Canada’s philosophy and goals
  3. To comply with MS Society and the care centre’s policies, procedures and protocols
  4. Complete the Friendly Visiting Program Orientation with the Community Connections Coordinator:
  • Meet the Community Connections Coordinator;
  • Meet the appropriate staff at Continuing Care Facility;
  • Meet the clients to find an appropriate match;
  • Arrange a suitable time to visit and create a Visitation Plan.
  1. Be prompt – time seems endless when one is waiting.
  2. Be regular – periodic visiting is only a frustration.
  3. To debrief and discuss resident visits with the Community Connections Coordinator on an as needed and/or monthly basis. 
  4. To communicate needs and issues (e.g. abuse or risk of self harm) immediately to the Community Connections Coordinators and/or Care Centre staff
  5. To complete administrative duties (Keep a record of all visits and give to Community Connections Coordinator on a monthly basis)
  6. To develop and maintain good working relationships with professionals/support persons and/or other individuals involved with the resident. 
  7. Respect the client’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
  8. Inform the Community Connections Coordinator immediately if you are unable to, or no longer wish to, continue visiting.
  9. Do not provide any assistance with personal care as that is the responsibility of the care centre staff.
  10. Be able to commit six months to one year to the program with an average of two hours bi-weekly (which will include your consultation, administration and visiting time).

 Benefits:

  1. Improved interpersonal skills including increased empathy, listening and communication skills
  2. Improved problem solving and mediation skills
  3. Increased knowledge of MS, the MS Society and of community resources
  4. Increased knowledge of continuing care and disability issues
  5. Personal satisfaction in knowing that you are providing support for another individual
  6. Discovery of personal strengths and increase in self confidence
  7. Experience in direct client services. 

Working Conditions:

  1. All visits will take place on the care centre’s property
  2. Consultation and training with the MS Society will occur at the MS Society office and at the care centre. 

 

Contact: Dionne Hemsley

Email: dionne.hemsley@mssociety.ca