By Jessica Mathews /

A new online, customizable toolkit has been launched on how to create and operate a corps of community volunteers who can safely provide non-medical services to older adults and people with disabilities living at home.

The joint effort between Altarum and Livingston County Catholic Charities aims to address a growing need for reliable long-term care supports in communities and neighborhoods across the country. Created with funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the comprehensive 340-page toolkit gives community leaders, program directors, and managers a step-by-step guide for creating a volunteer corps of community residents who care—from recruiting, screening, training, and retaining volunteers to conducting community outreach and marketing to promote their local program.

Officials say the toolkit is the first of its kind to be developed for community-based organizations seeking to organize volunteers to assist aging adults that are largely homebound and in need of basic supports to remain safe and socially connected. They say both the growing aging population and the COVID-19 crisis are driving demand for the services. The toolkit is said to be informed by Catholic Charities’ 30-years of experience running a volunteer caregiver program in Livingston County and working with senior citizens and Altarum’s decades of leadership advancing eldercare policy. Altarum is a non-profit research and consulting organization that creates and implements solutions to advance health among vulnerable and publicly insured populations.

A press release, which is attached, says any state or local organization interested in improving care of homebound older adults could benefit from using the toolkit to launch a new volunteer caregiver program or to improve upon an existing one. While the toolkit is shaped by LCCC’s work in Livingston County, its detailed policies and communication materials can be easily adapted to the needs of different localities. The toolkit also includes guidance on modifying program policies and services to ensure compliance with public health guidance on COVID-19 and other public health issues. The toolkit is available for download through the provided web link.