Our servicesIn-Home Volunteer
Respite Services

The Volunteer Respite Program was implemented in 2000 thanks to financial support from the J.W. McConnell Foundation. Volunteers are trained to provide in-home respite services three hours a week to seriously ill children or teenagers.

What do kids do?

During these sessions, volunteers organize stimulating activities that are adapted to the children’s physical and intellectual capacities: whether they play games, music, or make in arts and crafts, these moments are filled with laughter and caring. Parents rest assured that their children are in safe hands and can take this time to nap, read, cook, take care of their other children or see their friends. We do however ask for one parent to be present, because volunteers do not provide specialized care or administer medication. Children are free to choose their own activities, depending on their interests and capacities:

  • Music (songs, instruments, etc.)
  • Reading fairy tales, nursery rhymes or other types of books
  • Arts and crafts, drawing, scrapbooking, making souvenirs
  • Scientific experiments
  • Construction games (Lego, etc.), role play with figurines or dolls
  • Video, board or strategy games
  • Playing with other siblings
  • Outdoor games close to the house
  • Sensory awakening

And what does a parent do meanwhile?

Knowing that their children are in good hands, parents can take this time to rest or see to their other activities:

  • Spend time with their other children
  • Administration or household chores
  • Contact other services for their child
  • Cooking and gardening
  • Provide any necessary care to their child while the volunteer spends time with the other children
  • Write emails or make phone calls
  • Read a book or take a nice hot bath
  • Indulge in some time for themselves

And what do parents say about this service?

Parents are the first to say how much this respite service brings happiness, joy and relaxation to their family, which is exactly what our goal is. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear Louis laugh and play with his sister.” “The volunteers give Veronique all the love, caring and tenderness that she needs.” “With them, Marion forgets about her illness.” “We feel supported and know that we are not alone.” “Children love to see the volunteers! It’s a real treat for us; whenever a volunteer comes over, everyone is happy.” “Everything comes back to ‘normal’ for while when they come over.” “I’ve been meaning to make brownies for three weeks and finally have the time to do so.”

Who are the volunteers?

Volunteers are trained to play with seriously ill or severely disabled children. All activities are undertaken in the utmost respect of the family. They entertain and divert the children, but also help the treatment team for non-medical care like feeding children at mealtimes. A 18-hour training must previously have been followed before becoming a volunteer.

How do volunteers see their experience?

Volunteers also have very positive things to say about the small moments of joy they provide. “I still play spontaneously like a child, but the training taught me to see things like an adult. With my experience and the tools I acquired, I know how to make children smile. At the end of the day, I am full of energy thanks to the wonderful time I spend with them.” Antoine, volunteer and special education student “It’s nice to feel useful outside of my regular job. I really have fun with these children. I don’t play with them as an employee, but as a human being who is there to bring them happiness. I always feel happy when I come home, even when times are more difficult.” Francine, volunteer and industrial advisor “I have so much respect for families who care for a sick child. I will never truly understand what they go through but I’m happy to lend a hand. I’ve always loved playing with children and I feel great after my visits.” Jeanne, volunteer and retired since 2003