Quick Tips for Training Volunteer Care Providers

Quick Tips for Training Volunteer Care Providers
October 6, 2016 Bob D'Ambrosio

When someone at your church is in the hospital, who visits them? Is the expectation that the pastor makes the call? One sign of an equipping church is when pastoral care is provided by volunteers—not just clergy.

Here’s a quick quiz to train the volunteers at your church who provide care to those who are hospitalized or shut-in.

1. The purpose of your visit is to:
A. show how much your church cares.
B. impress them with your knowledge of Scripture.
C. avoid the guilt of not being there when others are.
D. focus on the patient so they feel cared for.

2. The length of the visit should be:
A. no more than 15 minutes, unless requested.
B. as long as the patient wants.
C. as long as the family needs support.
D. all of the above.

3. Hospital-room protocol should include:
A. checking in at the nurses’ station to make sure a visit is appropriate and timely.
B. washing your hands when you enter the room and when you leave.
C. not sitting on the bed.
D. introducing yourself to others in the room.
E. stepping out when a doctor comes in and confidential items are discussed.
F.  all of the above.

4.  It is always appropriate to share a patient’s condition with your church family.
A. True
B. False

5.  If you are going to say a prayer, it is a good idea to:
A. assume you know what the patient wants.
B. ask the patient what he/she would like you to pray for.
D. not pray if someone in the room isn’t a Christ-follower.
E. offer to pray if the patient or family would like you to.


1. D. We need to remember why we are there—and it’s for the patient. If we ask them questions, listen to their story, and hear their concerns, everything else will take care of itself.

2. ALL OF THE ABOVE. Normally, hospital visits should be brief. Remember: the patient is sick or injured, likely under the influence of medication, and needs to recover. This is not a social visit. But when there is a trauma or a bad diagnosis, the presence of a caregiver is sometimes required for much longer. Your presence is often sufficient and more meaningful than what you say.

3. ALL OF THE ABOVE. The patient’s health is already compromised so be careful not to add to the problem by bringing germs from outside or from the previous room visited. If you wash your hands, you will show that you understand the hospital setting. If they want you to hear the doctor’s diagnosis, advice or be part of the visit, they will invite you to stay, but avoid the awkwardness of someone having to ask you to leave, and step out during that time. The other items are helpful tips when visiting a health care facility.

4. FALSE. Ask the patient what they want others to know. Some people are private, and medical information is often complex and personal. Only tell what the patient wants told. There are general ways to request prayer support without going into detail.

5. B & D. Often a prayer is appropriate when someone from the care ministry visits. But to avoid awkwardness, keep the focus on the patient. Offer to pray if they request prayer. If you ask them what they want you to pray for, you’ll know what they are thinking and feeling, and you’ll be involving them in your prayer. Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” even when the solution seemed obvious.


Editor’s note:  Shared with permission from Chaplain Dan Hettinger at BestCareMinistry.com


Bob D’Ambrosio is a 25-year veteran of frontline church ministry and now serves with Group’s content solutions team. He’s a trainer for volunteer equipping, a Refresh the Church blogger, and a ministry coach for Group U. Bob is a contributing author and general editor of the E4:12 Bible Study Series Better Together: Connecting to God and Others and Leading Out: Connecting People to Purpose.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *