Compassion Meets Action: Understanding the Hospice Volunteer

hospice volunteer

Compassion Meets Action: Understanding the Hospice Volunteer

Volunteers play a major role in hospices and palliative patient care. Hospices in Idaho and its environs are encouraged to absorb more volunteers. A hospice volunteer plays the role of providing essential support, comfort, and care to the families and individuals that are on the verge of death. The families and friends of patients that are very ill need the service of volunteers to make it easier for them to get through such trying moments. Most importantly, the services that volunteers offer patients in the hospice means a lot. Hospice volunteers have to be compassionate, loving, and very caring to offer the best of services.

It Takes a Special Breed

For a long time, volunteers have been an integral part of hospice organizations. These volunteers add a lot of value to these organizations, and they cannot do without them. They are even recognized by the federal government to be very important in delivering hospice care. Usually, they are members of the local community, and this helps to provide the terminally ill and their friends and family with a feeling of normalcy.

Hospices are usually warm and caring places, thanks to the presence of volunteers who have a desire to help. These organizations ensure to provide the best possible standards of care to patients at their most crucial moment. Volunteers serve the purpose of ensuring that they improve the quality of the patient’s life, and to also offer support to the friends and families of those institutionalized. Hospice care is offered to patients who have a palliative diagnosis – this means that treatment for them is no longer an option. All that they can be offered is the best care and support to ensure that they are comfortable as they near death.

Volunteers are recognized as part of the hospice team. And they are there to share their skills and interest in a manner that improves the quality of life for the patients, and which provides comfort to the patients they serve. Normally, hospice volunteers offer their services on a regularly scheduled basis to provide a number of care services. According to the U.S. government, the total number of hours that volunteers are expected to contribute should equal a minimum of 5 percent of the number of care hours paid hospice employees provide. Some of the most commonly offered services include:

  • Support services – Some of the most common support services that volunteers provide include active listening, friendly visiting, bedside sitting, companionship, and writing letters among others.
  • Helping out with errands- individuals that volunteer in hospice organizations can help the patients and families carry out errands such as banking, picking up some prescription doses, and even grocery shopping
  • Sharing special interests, skills, and hobbies- sharing interests and hobbies is one of the best ways that volunteers offer comfort to the patients. Some of the interests that show care to patients include listening to music, reading, sports, art and crafts, and gardening just to mention but a few.
  • Helping out with chores – volunteers play a major role in helping out with housekeeping tasks, washing the dishes, preparing meals, and if the patient has children, volunteers can take care of them.
  • Ferrying the patients and or their families – volunteers are quite dedicated to help with any tasks including transporting the patients and their families to go shopping, outings, and to and from appointments.


What Value Do Volunteers Add?

There is nothing that provides comfort to patients than getting all the support and care that they need. Volunteers make the patients feel that they are not alone because they are there to listen and help out with a number of tasks. The volunteers give the patients inspiration by giving the courage and strength, and in the process, the volunteers themselves gain a lot more than they give the patients. The last moments in someone’s life are very crucial, and being invited to spend time with the patient at such a time is of great honor. More so, the volunteers feel some inner satisfaction for making a difference in someone’s life.

Hospice Volunteer Training

When someone is on the verge of death, his/her family and friends are at a loss for words, and they tend to pull away, afraid of what is going to happen next. A volunteer in a hospice organization is available to provide companionship and comfort to the patient and family during this tough times. In order to be a volunteer, one has to undergo training to understand the history of hospice, the philosophy of care, some emergency procedures, and to also understand the process of death- it being a sensitive issue.

Volunteers receive training of about 20 to 30 hours, and the sessions are spread out through several weeks. Training also involves developing communication skills, which are appropriate for addressing patients and their families. A volunteer should be able to communicate in a manner that gives the patient some comfort and support to the family members. The training is provided by individual hospices, and volunteers are expected to work an average of four hours a week.

Most hospices offer volunteers opportunities to give as much of their time as possible in the most flexible of manners. This calls for specialized training to ensure that the volunteer is able to connect with the patient and their friends and family in the best way possible to offer care, comfort, and support. To be a volunteer, there are a number of requirements that you must follow before you undergo training or get inducted into a hospice, and they include:

  • You must complete the initial application • You have to provide information pertinent with your health and physical limitations • You have to sign consent forms • You need to have a Tuberculosis (TB) test performed. Do note that this test is conducted free of
  • If you intend to volunteer in a hospice organizations, it is a requirement that you wait a minimum of one year after the death of a loved one or immediate family member.


What Traits Should a Volunteer Possess?

Hospices are meant for those individuals that have a palliative diagnosis. This means that the patients are near death, and the concept of death is very sensitive and confusing to most. Therefore, there are certain traits that are expected of a volunteer because at such a point in life, the patients need utmost care, support, and comfort. The aforementioned are the most valuable things that a volunteer can offer to a hospice care patient, and a volunteer should have the following traits:

  • He/she should have an avid understanding of personal limits
  • Should be compassionate and understanding to the individuals nearing death
  • Should have respect for all ways of life regardless of the patient’s religion or culture and customs.
  • Should be a good listener


The Types of Hospice Volunteering

In the United States, volunteers who serve in hospices are in thousands, and each possesses unique and special skills. Volunteers provide hospice care services to the patients and their families in a number of ways to ensure their comfort. These services are classified into direct care volunteering and indirect care volunteering. Let us have a peek at each.

Direct Care Volunteering

This category of hospice volunteering involves the volunteers working directly with the patients, families, and caregivers in a hospice. They offer care and support services such as transporting the patients and their families, preparation of meals, carrying out light housekeeping, sharing their hobbies and interests with the patients, and sitting with the patients to offer comfort.

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Indirect care volunteering

Unlike direct care volunteering, indirect care volunteers don’t interact directly with the patients or their families. These volunteers offer their support by helping in the hospice’s organization and administration tasks. Some of the activities they carry out include preparing mailings for community outreach, helping in data entry tasks, and organizing special community events. All these activities provide patients and families with comfort and feeling that they are not alone.

Benefits of Becoming a Volunteer

Majority of the individuals that volunteer in hospices say that being involved with another person’s death gives them great appreciation for life. Being intimately involved makes them become more grateful about life, and they don’t have to worry about some minor life hassles such as having to wait in long lines.

Being a volunteer gives you a sense of satisfaction for being available during someone’s most crucial moment, and it is one of the most important ways to contribute to society. Some of the volunteers say that serving hospice patients helps them come to terms with their mortality, and it is one way to promote emotional and spiritual growth.

Volunteering in a hospice also helps individuals to appreciate the closeness they develop with the family members, plus they also get to experience a very private and loving moment. Moreover, if you volunteer in a hospice, you will learn how to deal with such a situation if it happens in your family. Plus, the profound difference you’ll make in the final moments of someone’s life.

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