Care Teams Offer Non-Medical Support for Wisconsin Rural Homebound Elderly

From 1997 to 1999, the Oakwood Lutheran Homes Association, Madison, Wis., recruited and trained 10 congregational teams of volunteers who provided in-home care and support to individuals and families.

Oakwood Lutheran Homes Association is an organization of 36 Lutheran churches in the greater Madison area. For the past 50 years, the association has provided a campus setting for senior citizen residents, offering a continuum of care (from independent living to assisted living to nursing home care), regardless of their ability to pay.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program, Faith in Action®, Generation 2 and Generation 3.

Key Results

  • Ten congregational care teams were formed and trained to provide non-medical in-home care and support to individuals and families in need. All but one of the teams were specific to a congregation. That team was an interfaith team supported by four congregations in a rural town.

    • Some 91 volunteers representing 7 teams assisted 85 people. Three other teams completed training at the end of the grant period.
    • Because Madison is in a rural area with poor public transportation, the teams often provided rides to doctors' appointments, hospital visits, and grocery shopping.
    • An ecumenical care team sponsored a community-wide spring cleaning day in which volunteers cleaned a downtown park as well as individual homes.
    • Another care team, made of up junior and senior high school students, sponsored several monthly senior luncheons. Adults brought seniors from rural areas to a church, where the teenagers provided lunch and entertainment.