Volunteer tips for a successful friendly call with seniors

Woman on the Phone
It's wonderful that you've signed up to be a volunteer caller for seniors.  We want you and the people you are calling to get the most out of your conversations. Check out the below guide for all the details and tips you’ll need to remember before, during, and after your call. 

  1. Before your first call, learn about the person you are speaking to. For example, in the Mon Ami app, volunteers can find information about the person they are speaking with by selecting "Manage Calls" → “Upcoming”. 
  2. Start by introducing yourself, and then get to know the person you’re speaking with. If you’re unsure about what to discuss during your first call, below is a short script you can follow. It helps to use open-ended questions, and to come in with an open mind, open heart, and willingness to engage in storytelling.
    • Hi this is _____, calling from <Mon Ami> and I am your volunteer for phone calls. How are you today?
    • How do you pronounce your name, and what gender pronouns do you use?
    • How have you spent your day so far?
    • I learned from <Mon Ami> that _____. Tell me more about _____.
    • Do you have the food you need this week?
    • Is it okay if I give you a call every ______?
  3. Speak slowly and clearly, especially for seniors that may be hard of hearing. It’s good to check in once you first start speaking to make sure that the senior can hear you well, and that your cadence works well for them. 
  4. Call at the scheduled time, and be in an area with minimal background noise. If you are going to be late, or if you need to reschedule, give the person a call in advance to let them know. 
  5. Give the senior space to share their thoughts, try not to interrupt, and don’t be afraid to share your own stories. 
  6. Try to steer the conversation towards positivity if you can! Find moments to laugh — this is just a conversation and should feel natural even if it initially feels awkward :)
  7. Ask questions! If you need ideas, here are 27 questions to ask the senior you are calling to make them feel engaged and for you to get to know them better. If you want a fun change of pace, try one of these phone-based activities!
  8. It goes without saying, but no profanity or inappropriate topics. If you are ever made to feel uncomfortable during a call, please let us know ASAP! 
  9. Remember that we are all different. The person you are speaking to may be of a different gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, and may hold different religious or political beliefs. Try not to assign values to those differences (better or worse, right or wrong), and be open and flexible with others’ values, beliefs, and perceptions. 
  10. After the phone call, submit your call notes!  Loved ones really appreciate hearing how the calls went and what you might have learned.  
  11. Last, but certainly not least, have fun and remember that you are engaging in a wonderful act of kindness!

If you are part of an organization, check out our tips for how to set up and run a telephone reassurance program.