Hospice volunteering is a unique opportunity to serve our fellow human beings at a potentially scary time in their lives. Hospice volunteers are an integral part of hospice care.
Why do so many step forward to volunteer? It may be a sense that this is a way to “give back” to an organization or system of care that was there for the volunteer’s own family in a time of crisis. Or it may be a “calling” that beckons us to give of our time and compassion for others. Here’s what some volunteers have shared about what being a volunteer means to them.
- Giving relief to a caregiver
- Receiving more than you give
- Volunteering means caring and being cared for – giving my heart to others
- Volunteering feeds my soul
The volunteers who sing in Trilllium, the hospice chorus, share their love of music by singing in small groups in a patient’s home. For them, the smiles and singing along with the old standard songs that patients enjoy is what motivates their volunteer participation.
Hospice volunteers go through a rigorous training that is provided over several weeks and generally includes an introduction to hospice and palliative care, education on death, dying and grief, and communication and support skills. The goal of the training is to provide each person with the knowledge they will need to confront a wide range of possibilities as a volunteer. After completing the training, you have the option to become an active volunteer or opt to support the program in other ways if you are not ready for in-home care. Once you elect to provide in-home care, we will complete a background check.
Some questions commonly asked by volunteers as they start in with the training program are: “Am I really ready to make this commitment and will I be able to do it?” “Will I know what to do in a difficult situation?” We can anticipate many things people experience as they near the end of their lives, and some we can’t. But with training and the entire hospice team available to assist you, most things can be dealt with.
Volunteers can help the family by providing a needed respite. The time the volunteer spends with the patient provides family members and other caregivers with a chance to get out of the house or spend time with other family members. On a typical hospice visit, a volunteer may read to the patient, or simply sit and hold their hand.
Rarely are volunteers called upon for hands-on personal care such as helping people go to the bathroom or changing their clothes – that is usually what the nurses, home health aides and family or other close caregivers do. As a volunteer you will have the support you need to do what you have been asked to do – – to support the hospice patient and other caregivers.
For more information on becoming a hospice volunteer in:
Bennington Contact Mary Pleasant, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator at 802.442.5502.
Rutland and Dorset Contact John Campbell, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator at 802.770.1683.