Understanding the Role of Volunteers in Hospice Care
Volunteers play a vital role in hospice care. They may not provide medical or physical care as do physicians, nurses, and aides, but they do ease suffering by listening, holding a hand, or reading a book. Just being present can bring comfort.
“Our volunteers find that it is a gift and honor to serve clients at this time of life. They offer compassion and hope that the end of life has meaning and dignity.” – Angela Shook, Volunteer Program Manager, HCSWM
Hospice volunteers come from diverse ethnic backgrounds; all ages and life stages.
Many hospice volunteers are retired while others are working and want to give back, or students and interns gathering experience for their healthcare fields of study. A commonality with many volunteers is that they have had a great experience with hospice with their own families and want to help other people during their end of life journey.
Volunteers provide compassionate comfort and support.
They use their time and talents in a variety of ways:
- Visiting patients
- Reading books
- Playing cards and games
- Offering respite for caregivers
- Light housekeeping
- Providing companionship
- Bringing in pets for visiting
- Administrative help
- Preparing meals
- Answering phones
- Helping with crafts
- Offering support wherever needed
- Recording stories
Volunteers help make the end of life journey meaningful.
Story Catchers is one of the most meaningful programs Hospice Care of Southwest has developed. If desired, volunteers can spend time with patients asking for their stories and memories to record for their families. This has been so meaningful for patients that may not have been able to express emotions, stories and histories for their loved ones.
Volunteers are trained and skilled.
Volunteers enhance the clinical skills of the rest of the hospice team with their added dedication and compassion, coupled with training and skillsets. Training is provided depending on the areas where they are needed and may wish to spend their time.
Volunteer roles suspended during the pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, all volunteer activities have been suspended. Many people have volunteered from home making masks and gowns. They have written notes of encouragement and support and sent cards to our doctors, RNs, and aides. We are looking forward to the time that our volunteer programs can fully re-engage once it is safe to do so.
Our Mission is to guide and support individuals and their caregivers coping with illness, aging, dying, and loss by providing compassionate medical, emotional, spiritual, and personal care.