Starting Your Own Valentine's Day of Compassion
 

STEP 1 - FIND AND CONTACT the NURSING HOME

Yelp is the best resource to locate nearby nursing homes. When contacting a nursing home, speak with the activities director or program director to explain that you're part of a local church that is looking for an opportunity to hold a program on Valentine's Day for their residents.  Most nursing homes rarely have any programs on Valentine's Day, so your inquiry is often well-received.

  • Consider any factors that may fit your team better, such as language or other considerations.
    • If your group has a number of foreign speakers, you may want to visit a nursing home whose residents might skew towards an ethnic demographic.
    • There are typically different types of nursing homes:
      • Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF): Often referred to as "sniffs", residents in these nursing homes require care from trained nurses who are administering care based on a doctor's guidelines.  Residents typically have restricted dietary needs as well as scheduled medications.  Residents are typically divided between long-term and short-term care.  Often short-term care residents are there for a few weeks as part of a physical therapy/rehabilitation program.
      • Assisted Living Facilities: Residents are able to live independently but often have common areas and services provided for them, such as dining services in a cafeteria.
  • We recommend planning a 1-hour program in order to give the activities director the flexibility in scheduling your visit.
  • Be sure to call and remind the activity director before the actual visit.
     

STEP 2 - LEARN about the home

Learn about the Policy and Procedures for individual home regarding:

  • Whether photography or videography permitted?
  • What the visiting hours and restrictions are?
  • The aspects of your program and team size.
  • Whether there are any specific parking rules.
     

STEP 3- RECRUIT your team

Gather your team, and inform them of the program, time, date. Determine the following tasks and assign them:

  • A gospel-centered message
  • Songs – any guitarist / pianist? If not, you can get an MP3 of a soundtrack.
  • Crafts
    • You should generally make most of the crafts ahead of time and pass them out because residents are often unable to actively participate.  Crafts with a simple finishing step that the resident can personalize are good ideas.  (e.g., a simple flower arrangement in which the resident's name can be imprinted onto the potholder with scrapbook material.)
  • Giveaways
    • Large-print bibles, bookmarks, books, gospel tracts
  • Equipment
  • Skits
    • If you want to include a dramatic element in your program, remember to keep it simple and demonstrative.  Don't rely too much on talking or narration, as it maybe difficult for residents to follow.
       

STEP 4 - prepare your team

We recommend spending a few hours with your team to educate them about the facility and kinds of people they will meet.

  • Residents may have unpredictable reactions to your team's presence. Always be cordial and accommodating to their preferences.
  • Many residents typically have medical issues such as dementia, vision/hearing impairment, or challenged motor skills. We recommend reviewing a presentation on dementia to help your team adjust to this new environment.
  • Review the Do's and Don't Guidelines

Program Elements

Songs (special songs or hymns)

2 songs before the message and 1 song after the message:

  • Amazing Grace (Chris Tomlin version)
  • Come Home Running
  • I Have a Hope
  • Your Love is Deep (with motions) 
  • Amazing Love (with motions)
  • He Knows My Name

GOSPEL Message 

  • Sermon Resources
  • Popular Passages for Nursing Homes
    • Zephaniah 3:17, 1 John 4:20, John 3:16         
  • Popular Passage for Men’s Shelter        
    • Prodigal Son (Luke 15)     
  • Popular Passages for Women’s Shelter         
    • Samaritan Woman (John 4)      
    • Zephaniah 3:17      

Craft IDEAS

  • For nursing homes:
    • Decorating small flower pots with name, Bible verse and scrapbook materials
    • Decorating a pre-framed Bible verse with scrapbook materials
  • For women’s and children’s shelters:
    • Making beads

 

Giveaways

  • Frames with hearts and verses: Zephaniah 3:17, 1 John 4:20, John 3:16
  • Bookmarks with Bible verses
  • Books: Return of the Prodigal, More Than a Carpenter, Bible, Daily Bread
  • Socks, blankets, scarves
  • Transcript of the message:
    • Make it large print (minimum 14-point font)
    • Make it available for residents to keep if they want to read it.

Sample Program

  • Sample Nursing Home program (1 hour)
    • 5:45 - 6:00 pm: Set up the room with sound equipment, props, stands, etc. (15 min)
    • 6:00 - 6:10 pm: Pass out the programs (if any), introduce yourself, sing praise songs (10 min)
    • 6:15 - 6:30 pm: Give message, may include a short skit (15 min)
    • 6:30 - 6:40 pm: Sing final song and close in prayer. Can give invitation to accept Christ (10 min)
    • 6:40 - 7:00 pm: Craft time, talk to individual residents, pray for them (20 min)
    • 7:00 - 7:10 pm: Take down the equipment, and gather back to pray with the team (10-15 min)
       
  • Sample Men/Women/Children’s Shelter program (1.5 hrs)
    • 5:45 - 6:00 pm: Set up the room with sound equipment, props, stands, etc. (15 min)
    • 6:00 - 6:10 pm: Pass out the programs (if any), introduce yourself, sing praise songs (10 min)
    • 6:15 - 6:30 pm: Give message, may include a short skit (15 min)
    • 6:30 - 6:35 pm: Give testimony – should be fitting for the audience
    • 6:40 - 6:50 pm: Sing more songs, have altar call / invitation time for prayer
    • 6:50 - 7:10 pm: Depending on atmosphere, either play group games, have ice cream social type of “talking” time, or make crafts together
    • 7:15 - 7:25 pm: Take down the equipment and gather back to pray with the team (10-15 min)

Do's and Don'ts

DON'T

  • Keep talking to them if they do not want to be bothered
  • Give out your cell phone # or other personal contact information
  • Bring children to the nursing home without prior permission
  • Follow or take residents into their rooms

DO

  • Ask for residents' names, introduce yourself, and find out about them
  • Smile a lot!
  • Ask if you can pray for them, and if they have a prayer request, pray for them
  • Prepare and share a 3-minute gospel presentation
  • Sit with them, be near them during the program
  • Pair up with another team member if possible