Update to phone lines at our Birchmount and General Hospitals: If calling through Birchmount main line (416-495-2400), add “7” when dialing an extension. If calling through General main line (416-438-2911), add “8” when dialing an extension.

Volunteer Services

One of the most special and important roles in improving patients' lives and delivering exceptional care

volunteer with senior patient
Volunteering at SHN

At Scarborough Health Network, we have more than 1,000 volunteers supporting our patients, their families and our staff. They’re an essential part of what we do. As ambassadors of SHN, volunteers play a significant role in supporting SHN’s mission, vision and values. Volunteers raise spirits, raise funds and raise awareness.

The benefits to volunteering in health care are all very personal and may include the desire to help others, or to gain valuable knowledge and experience within a hospital environment. Whatever the reason, we appreciate the contributions our volunteers make. As a way to show our gratitude, we’re pleased to offer many benefits to our volunteers, including complimentary beverages and parking, access to wellness programs, educational opportunities, and more.

Thank you for your interest in sharing your gift of time with our patients, families, staff, and community.

Volunteering During the Pandemic

Ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our patients, staff, volunteers and learners remain our top priority. SHN is pleased to share that we have welcomed the return of fully-vaccinated volunteers, high school co-op students and post-secondary students to non-clinical and clinical departments at all SHN sites.

All new and returning volunteers will be required to comply with SHN’s updated COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, and present proof of all COVID-19 vaccination doses. To support their safe return, volunteers will also be required to complete a refresher orientation and online training modules, including up-to-date infection prevention and control training.


We are seeking motivated and engaged community members to help build connections and provide vital support to our health network. We welcome you to volunteer at our hospital and make a difference in your community.

The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) is designed to maintain the mental and physical well-being of elderly patients during their hospitalization, thus reducing the risk of delirium and functional decline. You could gain invaluable experience and make a tremendous difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable community members by joining our dedicated team comprised of an Elder Life Specialist (ELS) and proficient HELP Volunteers. The HELP team collaborates closely with the Seniors Health team, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Registered Dietitians, Social Workers, and Physicians.

Who we assist

HELP is tailored for older patients, in one of our hospitals for an acute condition, who face the potential of experiencing delirium and functional decline during their hospital stay. Patients at risk may encounter challenges in one or more of the following domains:

  1. Cognitive Function
  2. Mobility
  3. Activities of Daily Living
  4. Vision
  5. Hearing
  6. Sleep Patterns
  7. Communication

How the program works

When elderly patients are admitted to a hospital unit, an ELS will assess their susceptibility to delirium or functional decline. Patients identified as at-risk will undergo an initial evaluation for HELP Program suitability. If appropriate, our team will work with the patient / their caregiver / family to educate them about the program, and determine if enrollment is of interest.

HELP Volunteers, who have received specialized training, will work with our Director of Volunteer Services, Manager of Seniors Health and the patient, to develop a personalized care plan. The volunteers will continually monitor progress and adjust the care plan as necessary until the patient’s discharge from the hospital. Participation in HELP is entirely voluntary, and patients may opt out of the program at any time.

What is required of volunteers?

  • Commitment of 100 hours of service
  • Positive attitude and dedication to helping others

Resources for Patients and Their Families:

Delirium is a sudden and temporary state of confusion. Symptoms can change throughout the day and last from days to weeks. Delirium is different from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because it develops more quickly and may clear completely. It is a serious condition.


  1. Act confused.
  2. Have trouble paying attention and concentrating.
  3. Be forgetful and confused about where they are.
  4. Be upset and restless.
  5. Have a change in sleeping patterns (mix up days and nights) or sleep all day.
  6. See or hear imaginary things.

Delirium is a serious condition. Please tell your health care provider if you notice these new symptoms.

Functional decline is a general weakness or inability to do normal or basic activities such as walking, bathing, toileting, and feeding.
Staying in bed too long and being inactive can cause muscle weakness, balance problems, exhaustion, and even falls.


  1. Stay mentally active: Take part in hobbies and activities such as reading, doing puzzles and playing games. Keep track of date, day, time, year and season. Have your family bring in books, magazines, and other hobbies that you enjoy. Invite family/friends to visit often, and phone family/friends for conversation.
  2. Stay physically active: Walking or bed exercises at least three times per day. Use any assistive devices necessary at all times and ask for assistance if needed to walk safely.
  3. Eat and drink well: Unless otherwise told by your nurse, eat your meals and drink your fluids. Try to sit up in a chair for all your meals.
  4. Maintain healthy hearing and vision: If needed, wear your hearing aids and glasses at all times except when sleeping.
  5. Maintain healthy sleep routines: Try to stay awake during the daytime. Stop drinking fluids 2 hours before going to bed for the night. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening.

The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) © 2000. Sharon Inouye, MD, MPH

SHN’s popular R-WE (Real-World Experience) Program offers university and college students more unique opportunities to support the health of our community and make a real impact on the lives of our patients and the families we serve. Students can expect to gain real world experience in a health care environment by working alongside seasoned health care professionals, and building connections that will last a lifetime.

SHN Volunteer Services is currently recruiting for post-secondary student volunteers that would like an opportunity to volunteer at Scarborough Health Network and SHN’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics within the Scarborough Community.

The R-WE Program is currently accepting applications. If you are interested in volunteering with SHN and our Scarborough community Vaccine Clinics, please see the details and requirements below.

Note: All Real-World Experience Applicants must be 18 years of age or older to apply.

Minimum Commitment:

  1. Be available to volunteer for the duration of one full month (i.e. May, June, July, or August)
  2. Commit to five half-day, four-hour shifts per week (Monday through Friday) for a full month
    one four-hour shift, once per week, for three months.

Please reach out to Volunteerservices@shn.ca if you require any further details.

Summer Pathfinder volunteers ensure everyone who walks through SHN’s doors receives immediate assistance with directions, information, and mobility assistance. The program is open to high school students who are interested in learning about health care with a focus on customer service and patient interaction. Pathfinders primarily provides support at the hospitals’ main entrances, and are offered opportunities to support the information desks and patient registration area.

If you are interested in volunteering for the summer, you must meet the following requirements.

Note: All Summer Pathfinder Applicants must be 15 years of age or older to apply.

Minimum Commitment:

  • Be available to volunteer July and August
  • Commit to 5 half-day 4-hour shifts a week (Monday through Friday) for a full month OR a 4-hour shift once a week for two months
  • Complete an application package, Vulnerable Sector Check, health screening – TB and immunization form
  • Attend orientation prior to the first day of your placement


  • Be 15 years of age or older
  • Be able to commit to volunteering with SHN for a minimum of 6 months
  • Be able to commit to volunteering for one shift a week for up to 4 hours
    • The hospital is open 7 days a week Sunday-Saturday and we require volunteer support during the following times: 8am-12pm, 12pm-4pm and 4pm-8pm (hours may vary)
  • Attend the interview and onboarding orientation either virtually or in-person

Be able to provide proof COVID-19 vaccination (including booster) and a current police record check (PRC) with vulnerable sector screening (Note: After a successful interview, we will provide a letter of conditional acceptance that you will provide the police department in order to obtain the PRC with vulnerable sector screening.)

How To Apply

We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, skills and unique talents and have begun recruiting new volunteers to join our volunteer team.

Volunteers are carefully screened and selected to ensure the best fit between the needs of the hospital and the skills and interests of the volunteer. Spaces are limited, thus, unfortunately, we may not have a role for every applicant. Due to the volume of applications received, only applicants selected to continue through the process will be contacted.

  1. Complete the Volunteer Application Form for conditional acceptance.
  2. Complete the Health Screening for Volunteers Form. (Applicant must submit this form to a family physician or a walk-in clinic physician to be completed)
  3. Complete the Reference Check Form with two references.
  4. Submit the forms from Steps 1, 2 and 3 via email to volunteerservices@shn.ca

(Your application will be acknowledged and processed only after you have completed step #4.)

Note: Your application will not be processed if you do not submit all completed forms, excluding your police check, which may be submitted within a reasonable timeline after approved candidates sign the Volunteer Services Agreement. Incomplete application packages will not be considered.

As a conditionally-accepted candidate for the volunteer program, you will have access to electronic information about the Scarborough Health Network, its mission, vision and values. A face-to-face pre-placement interview will be arranged with you and conducted at the hospital. At this interview we will discuss your interests, your appropriate fit for the volunteer program, professional conduct as well as our processes.

As a selected candidate to join the volunteer program, you must attend an on-site onboarding/orientation session (approximately 2.5 hours) where emergency codes and other policies and procedures will be explained. You will have your ID badge processed, parking activated and receive your uniform. You will also have the opportunity to tour the hospital and meet other new volunteers.

By the end of the onboarding/orientation session all volunteers should have their volunteer placement confirmed.

Training in your volunteer placement will be carried out by an experienced volunteer or supervisor, until you are comfortable with the role and expectations

You are required to make a weekly commitment of one three- to four-hour shift, one day per week for six months.

As a volunteer, you are expected to adhere to policies and procedures regarding confidentiality, dress code, and security regulations such as wearing proper identification.

Becoming a volunteer will require your time to complete the application process and the cost of your uniform. A refundable deposit is also required on your ID badge.

However, you will receive the following perks:

  • Free parking
  • Free refreshments while on your shift
  • The Foundation loyalty program discount tag that allows you to receive discounts on purchases at selected stores in the Scarborough area
Contact Us

The Volunteer Services Department is currently operating, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Coordinators are available to answer your questions and concerns by phone or email at volunteerservices@shn.ca

Contact Us

Monday to Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone Numbers
Birchmount: 416-495-2400 Ext. 75360
General: 416-438-2911 Ext. 86021
Centenary: 416-281-7316 Ext. 4533