Hospice strives to provide excellent medical expertise and support to those who face life-limiting illnesses that require expert care. Because hospice focuses on providing care rather than finding a cure for patients’ conditions, most hospice care occurs in the homes of patients so they can be in a comfortable environment. Care can also be provided through hospitals, nursing homes and, long-term residence facilities. Hospice care depends on the support of hospice volunteers to help provide the best care they can. For more information about becoming a hospice volunteer, reach out to Harbor Light Hospice for more information.
How Do Hospice Volunteers Help?
Hospice volunteers are essential in providing the level of care and support that patients and their loved ones expect from hospice care. The primary goal of a hospice volunteer is to provide empathy and companionship to both the patient and their loved ones during their difficult times. Volunteers’ duties vary depending on the needs of the person they are caring for. Part of volunteering may also consist of offering support through community outreach activities, fundraising, or office work. Through their participation, hospice volunteers find value in their devotion to patients, their loved ones, and their community.
The Benefits of Hospice Volunteers
The importance of hospice volunteers should never be overlooked because they can be much more beneficial to hospice care than one might initially think. They assist patients in multiple ways that not every hospice professional can do on their own. These include layers of support such as empathetic listening, activity involvement, communication with hospice staff, and ADL assistance.
Comforting Volunteer Support
Volunteers listen to the patient when they express themselves, offering them an outlet they might not have had before. Their presence alone brings comfort and support, allowing patients to confide in volunteers with their stories, secrets, fears, and hope . Hospice volunteers can even make a patient’s day by participating in some of their favorite pastimes, like playing chess, cards, or watching T.V.
Communication & ADL Assistance
Volunteers can be a great source of communication between the patient, family, and the hospice care staff to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Depending on their level of training, a hospice volunteer can even help the patient with personal hygiene and care.
Some hospice volunteers don’t find their best strengths in working closely with a hospice patient. However, there are still many other ways in which a volunteer can help a hospice run more smoothly and improve their patients’ quality of life. Some perform more office-oriented roles like working in a thrift shop, coordinating support services, fundraising, answering the phone, mailings, photocopying, and data entry. There truly is something that everyone can do.
Hospice Volunteer Training
Volunteers must complete training to ensure that they are prepared to fulfill the tasks that will be required of them. Training can vary depending on a volunteer’s role within the organization, but generally, all volunteers receive a similar basic instruction. These various levels of training include learning and understanding items such as:
- The mission and philosophy of hospice care
- A comprehensive list of hospice services
- Best practices, procedures & precautions
- Providing emotional support to families
- Emergency Procedures
- Symptoms of life-limiting illnesses
- Common injuries
- Communication skills
- Boundaries of interaction
- End of Life processes
- Grief support
Having strong knowledge and skills in these areas of hospice care helps hospice volunteers perform their duties to the highest degree, ensuring that their patients enjoy the best quality of life possible.
How to Become a Hospice Volunteer
To become a hospice volunteer, one must first reach out to a hospice care provider to see if they are eligible. It is very likely that they will request an interview in which they will ask the candidate why they want to volunteer, their availability schedule, and what experience they have caring for someone who is nearing the end of their life. Similar to applying for a job, they may ask that the individual complete an application, submit a resume, and provide a few references. Once these initial qualifications are met, a person can assume the role of a volunteer.
Speak to Harbor Light Hospice for more information about volunteering for hospice care and how you can bring your unique experience to the table to provide compassionate care to a hospice patient.