Switching to a service-based approach is not difficult.
Following are some tips for making the leap:

  • Find a charity. Seek out community need, which is in abundance; there are 5,000 nonprofits in San Luis Obispo alone, for example.
  • Get staff buy-in. When staff are on board, they will move into a support role to the residents, as they are the stars. Most importantly, staff will have to convince the residents that they are truly needed.
  • Consider how you ask. Because many nursing facility residents are depressed, how they are asked is vital. Remember, Mission View staff had little luck recruiting residents when they asked them to make soap. But when they asked them for their help in feeding the homeless, residents rarely hesitated.
  •  Keep it local. Although there are thousands of worthy charities, it is important to keep it local. In order to make the greatest impact, residents need to touch those they serve. Serving meatloaf onto someone’s plate at the homeless shelter or holding the hand of someone in hospice gives them a sense of value not realized by simply donating money outside of their communities.