Volunteers often get involved with hospice in order to give back to their community and help terminally ill patients and their families during a challenging time. In return, many hospice volunteers discover that their service can lead to a deeply touching and meaningful experience.
Hospice volunteers have an opportunity to serve in a variety of ways. They can serve as part of a team of medical professionals, provide administrative support, participate in community outreach programs, or lend their professional expertise in areas needed by the hospice.
Each hospice patient is assigned to a team of clinical professionals, as well as a volunteer. While physicians and nurses can provide expert medical care, hospice volunteers provide a unique support system to the patients and their families. Below are some examples of the possible roles of volunteers in a hospice setting:
• Assisting patients – A hospice volunteer can help terminally ill patients in a variety of ways, including listening and conversing with them, reading books to them, preparing a meal, or running errands.
• Assisting families – Since family members are often the main care providers for the patients, volunteers can assist them by staying with the patient and giving them a chance to pay the bills, run errands and even take time to rest.
• Administrative assistance – Hospices often need help within the office performing clerical tasks, such as answering telephones, data entry, Xeroxing and filing.
• Professional assistance – The services of attorneys, clergy, medical professionals, social workers, fundraisers, and other professionals are always welcome and needed at hospices.
To become a hospice volunteer:
• Contact your local hospice – The first step towards becoming a hospice volunteer is to connect with hospices in your area. They can tell you exactly what services they need and how to complete their volunteer training.
• Volunteer training – Most hospices have a volunteer training program that must be completed before service can begin. The training typically covers the goals and philosophy of hospice care, how to comfort and support patients and their families, and how to handle emergency situations.