Ask the nursing home where you're interested in volunteering what duties they give their volunteers. I suspect it varies depending on local needs.
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I used to volunteer in a nursing home, reading newspapers and books to a blind woman for a few hours a week.
Conversation, playing simple games - or if the nursing home my mother went into is anything to go by - playing cut throat card games with some of the more able residents.
Like any volunteer activity what you generally get out of it is related to what you put in but it is very satisfying.
The stuff that paid staff least want to do probably. I know Zoo volunteers clean up & clean out after the animals. If you're thinking of doing this, make sure you're not doing anything that you've not been properly trained to do, or which you're unqualified for. L