The primary tasks of volunteers on this unit are to spend time with and improve the patient experience and to decrease patient falls by monitoring and providing companionship for patients. Quality volunteers are self-motivated, display developed interpersonal skills, and adapt easily to the changing needs of the unit and its patients.
Volunteer work primarily entails interacting with patients. The patient population includes but is not limited to patients in acute states of behavioral crisis, patients with Dementia, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease. Most, but not all, of the patients are older adults or elderly. Geriatric Psychiatry units are few and far between throughout the country.
Volunteers provide companionship and encouragement to patients, assist with patient activities/groups, assist staff with environmental tasks such as tidying up rooms/bathrooms and making beds, assist in developing specific programs for stress reduction, relaxation, or exercise, assist patients in utilizing the unit’s recreational resources, and assist patients with meal set up, delivering food trays and opening up packages.
All prospective volunteers will attend large group orientation, where they will receive general University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics information. Volunteers will also attend small group orientation to receive training and information about the unit, as well as a tour of the area.
The dress code for this unit is a Volunteer Services polo, khaki pants, and closed-toe shoes. Shirts are available for purchase at Wild Rose Gifts (Main Entrance Lobby) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteers must follow the professional appearance policy, which includes wearing the volunteer badge at all times.
Volunteers need to make a semester-long commitment and be willing to work for at least three hours once per week or for 1.5 hours twice per week. Volunteer hours are scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
Areas of Study Best Suited
This unit is well-suited for anyone majoring in any pre-health science fields, particularly psychology, but volunteers interested in neurology, gerontology, and other related disciplines(AT, OT) may also find the unit particularly rewarding. It is also a great fit for anyone who enjoys spending time with older adults, is interested in the opportunity to work along hospital staff, or wants high levels of experience working with patients at UI Hospitals and Clinics.