Compassion is the calling of our hospice volunteers. Whether you run an errand, make a phone call, offer a ride, bake cookies, or simply hold a hand to offer friendship and comfort, hospice volunteers make a difference!
Volunteers play a vital role in our mission to care for terminally ill patients. Volunteers support professional caregivers with direct patient and family care, bereavement services, as well as supportive roles such as office work, staffing special events, and public relations.
Volunteers are the heart of hospice. The paid hospice staff provides medical, spiritual, and psychological assistance. But the hospice volunteer provides a special kind of caring. Each volunteer brings a unique combination of experience, interests, and talents to the Hospice program. Filling the unique role between paid staff and loved ones, hospice volunteers are trained to help meet the needs of the patient and their family along with the hospice team. Visits are scheduled by the volunteer and patient, but are very flexible and always dictated by the patient’s condition and needs.
Volunteers are part of a team—a team that includes a doctor, nurse, aide, social worker, chaplain, and bereavement coordinator. Volunteers providing direct patient care can often give the team important feedback concerning issues that arise during their visits.
What does it take to be a hospice volunteer?
Hospice volunteers know the work is not easy. You are opening up your heart and giving your time to people who will die. You must be able to be a supportive, calming presence with the events taking place. Your role as a volunteer is that of a guest, an observer, and one who is able to communicate information to the hospice team.
Hospice volunteers need to:
- Commit the time to volunteer training and yearly reviews and in-services
- Be dependable
- Be an active listener and comfortable in silence
- Have strong boundaries and know your limits and when to say no
- Be patient
- Leave your judgment at the door
- Respect others beliefs and religious rituals, or lack of
- Realize that needs are not only physical, but spiritual and emotional
Where do I fit?
Volunteers are required to complete a comprehensive training course. The course is designed to help you understand the philosophy of hospice, caring for the terminally ill, grief and loss, as well as understanding the needs of the family. During training, the areas of volunteering are discussed and, along with the volunteer coordinator, matching those areas with the interests, talents, and strengths of the volunteer.
Hospice Volunteers – It’s The Law
One of the unique features of hospice care is the requirement that community volunteers must provide a minimum of 5 percent of total patient care hours. This was written in 1982 when hospice care became a Medicare benefit signed by President Ronald Reagan.
The reasoning was that volunteers would offer unique care and a point of view that the family or the professional healthcare team would not be able to provide. Today, each and every Medicare-certified hospice trains volunteers to provide 5 percent of patient care hours.
- Direct Patient Care
- Bereavement Support
- Pet Pal Visits
- Office/Clerical Duties
- Special Events
- Community Outreach
- Memory Bear Project
Who To Contact