If you are willing to give an hour of your time, are a compassionate person and are willing to learn, you may be exactly what a local agency serving hospice patients is looking for right now. The need, agency officials say, is great to find those volunteers willing to work with hospice patients in the community.
Marie Daniels, hospice volunteer coordinator for Liberty Home Care and Hospice Services, said she is in dire need of volunteers to help with hospice patients.
To become a hospice volunteer there is training involved, and each volunteer is assigned to a patient, with the expectation that they will visit once a week for 30 minutes to an hour. The training that Liberty Hospice Services uses is based around Medicare guidelines and fulfills their requirements, and is only 12 hours total. The training will be worked around the volunteer’s schedule and broken down into a few sessions of approximately three to four hours each.
“Many of our volunteers are retired,” stressed Daniels. “Right now we have three male volunteers, and I am fortunate that we have them.” She added that sometimes men tend to shy away from hospice volunteering, which is unfortunate since often her male patients request and desire a male visitor. Two of her male volunteers have been seeing her patients for a while, and the third one is expected to be wrapping up his training soon.
“I would love to have more male volunteers,” said Daniels, noting that a couple weeks back the agency took on seven new patients, all who need to have someone placed with them.
Volunteers will have to pass a criminal background check as well as a drug screening, much the same as agency employees. That’s necessary, she said, because of the sensitive nature of their business and the fact that volunteers often see patients at home or in care facilities like Mary Gran and Southwood.
“Some think that hospice is just in the home, but it’s not,” stated Daniels. “We have it in care facilities as well.”
Whether at home or in a nursing facility, hospice volunteers, she stressed, will find immense reward from the time they spend with patients.
“All of my volunteers say that they get a blessing,”attested Daniels, noting that patients also find blessings in the visits the volunteers make.
“The volunteers have compassion and show great care and concern,” she said, noting that patients can feel it and certainly appreciate it.
She added that the volunteers have to be compassionate to give their time and not receive any compensation for what they do. Daniels explained that the volunteers often tell her that they get more blessing than the families, even though the patient and their families will disagree about who actually gets the most blessing.
Volunteering with hospice also goes beyond just the one-on-one with patients, and Daniels said that they also have opportunities for people who want to be an indirect volunteer to participate. These volunteers can assist with office work, like admission packets, or help at memorial services, which benefit the patients indirectly.
“We have had one volunteer who was a telephone operator for years,” Daniels said. She said that no matter what, confidentiality is an important component for whoever works with them.
Those that volunteer with patients are expected to visit every week and the day that they choose to visit is entirely dependent upon their own schedule; however, calling to check that the patient does not have an appointment somewhere is a good idea.
Volunteers also have access to someone on duty for assistance 24/7 — even after their office closes there is someone on call. Hospice is also good for patients because it puts an extra set of eyes on them and their surroundings to ensure they are receiving the best care. Nurses visit with the patients on a regular basis according to the patients conditions, and the patients also have social workers that coordinate and assist patients with paperwork like applications for services, funeral preparations, and medical orders like a Do Not Resuscitate.
“We also have a chaplain on staff and CNAs who can go visit patients every day,” added Daniels.
Daniels has been working with hospice since 1991 and she said that she has seen what hospice is like from both sides — she had hospice care for both her mom and her brother — and knows how important volunteers can be.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org