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Nursing Home Ministry
Photo: Hemera
Sad, but true! Nursing homes can be very lonely and depressing. This is one reason many people are hesitant to visit family members and friends who have the misfortune of being in one. They don’t want to see their loved ones suffering. And they don’t want to smell the urine, or see confused ladies walking around carrying dolls. So, they take the "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" approach.  
Churches and Christian schools can provide much needed support to nursing home residents and workers. Here are a few suggestions for penetrating the loneliness and sharing God’s love: 
1. Find out what's needed. Check with the local nursing homes in your community and assess their needs. Find out if they are open to having people come in to help. 
2. Offer your time. Nursing homes are always looking for volunteers who are willing to sit with patients or take them for walks. 
3. Draw up a schedule. As a church, offer to provide a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly program. Many nursing homes are glad to have groups come in and provide, singing, devotional talks, slides, etc. Make it positive and upbeat! 
4. Consider what to give. Ask the nursing home director if there are items that patients could benefit from that are not in their budget. For example, older people like flowers and birds. Maybe members from your church could build bird houses or flower boxes to place by the resident’s windows. 
5. Bring holiday cheer! Make visits around the holidays to share cards and care notes. Perhaps you can invite kids from the children’s Sabbath school divisions to help with making and delivering the cards. 
6. Bring colorful flowers. Have a flower program, where periodically, youth from your church deliver a flower to each of the resident’s rooms. 
7. Adopt-a Grandparent. If you have a church school, see about setting up an adopt-a-grandparent program with a local nursing home. Some school have worked this kind of thing into their school curriculum. Students can play table games with the residents, take them for indoor walks and read to them. 
8. Visit with resident’s one on one. Listen to their needs, and pray with them. 

Rich DuBose is Director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.
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