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How a Group of "Fraidies" Went From Fear to Confidence After Instant Training

This is just how it happened at a church near Chattanooga, TN a couple years ago.  For two Sundays bulletin announcements invited people who felt called to visit residents of long-term care centers but who had no experience visiting strangers--people who correctly believed that those people should be visited but who incorrectly were afraid to do it--to attend brief training (just 25 minutes!) and then go visiting.  Now, the big obstacle for many people is fear: "I won't know what to say."

So we gave each of these nervous new volunteer visitors SmilesUp conversation starter cards with some ideas about how to use.  Then we went to a facility.  They filled out a survey before the training and again, after they each made two one-to-one visits.  Here is how the moods of those "fraidy cat" visitors changed, as they rated themselves from 1 to 5:

                                                                                                                  Before      After

                                                                                                                   Visits        Visits

               Negative emotions: Cautious, Apprehensive, Nervous        2.8           1.8
               Positive emotions: Confident, Eager, Optimistic                   3.6           4.5

This is the kind of study that people who know how to do research (and I count myself among them) refer to as "quick and dirty."  The procedures do not meet the standards held by the profession, in this case, psychology.  The findings are not publishable but are useful as a guide to further study or, as we use these findings, to encourage further use of a method.

Now, if that little "Q&D" survey wasn't convincing, watch this video with its before and after interviews with the Former Fraidies.  Their experienes convince me that visiting late-age elderly is a good thing for everyone!  Turn the sound on and listen.







Why they were successful:  (1) They were working with the Lord in ministering to His people (and to those who don't know Him).  (2) They had some training about what to expect. (3) They were prepared to use a SmilesUp conversation starter care.  This uses the tried and true Montessori principle of sensory stimulation, enlivens the resident's cognition, and increases the visitor's confidence.  It prepares the way for conversation that can move in any direction that God leads, and it leaves behind affirmation of His continuing love and presence.  Fraidies no more, each of these volunteers has gone back to visit again. 

SmilesUp cards have verses on the back side that will provide a natural transition to Christian topics if the resident is inclined at that time for the conversation to go that way.  If not, that's okay.  The visitor's first goal is to show friendship and acceptance to the resident, just as Christ has done with us.  The card is left with the resident as a reminder of the fact that God loves them and is available to them, now and forever!

--Rich Walters

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