Volunteers play a very important role in hospice care. Many volunteers keep patients company and provide emotional support while their family and friends cannot be with them, while others help with administrative work and outreach.
People choose to become hospice volunteers for many reasons. Some volunteers have decided to offer their services as a way of expressing their gratitude for the help they received from hospice during a loved one’s illness, and others choose to become volunteers because they find the work incredibly rewarding.
Top Benefits Of Volunteering For Hospice
Here is a closer look at some of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering for hospice.
It’s A Way Of Giving Back
Many people who have been through the experience of losing a loved one feel compelled to use the insight they have gained to support others. No one knows better than someone who has lost a loved one just how much support their family members need, even if it is just a listening ear.
It Builds Social Connections
Volunteer work is also a great way to feel more socially connected thanks to the bond that is often formed with patients and their families. The opportunity to listen to people reflect on their lives or talk to them about whatever they wish to discuss benefits the volunteer as well as the patient. Some volunteers report that it is one of the best things they have ever done for themselves and that patients also appreciate having that social connection.
It Can Provide Greater Self-Knowledge
Another rewarding aspect of volunteering with hospice is the greater sense of self-knowledge that can be achieved through the relationships that volunteers form with patients and their families, as well as hospice volunteer training. This allows them to develop a stronger sense of themselves.
It Gives Volunteers A Deeper Appreciation Of Life
Many hospice volunteers say that volunteering gives them a new perspective and a deeper appreciation of life. They often find that they are less likely than before volunteering to get upset at some of the smaller annoyances in life, like getting stuck in traffic or a long line while shopping.
The Opportunity For Spiritual Growth
Volunteering for hospice can also provide you with spiritual growth as you support someone through their final days. This is a very transformative process that can raise your awareness of your own spiritual values and help you develop a better understanding and acceptance of the inevitability of death.
Volunteering Is Linked To Happiness
A lot of people think that volunteering for hospice is a depressing job, but volunteers will tell you the opposite is true. It can be incredibly uplifting to help people in their time of need. The ability to be the friendly face that someone else needs can be very inspiring and fulfilling.
There is scientific support for the idea that volunteering is linked to happiness. A study by the London School of Economics found that American adults who did more volunteer work had greater overall happiness when compared to a control of test subjects who had never volunteered.
Those who gave their time at least once a month had a 7% higher likelihood of feeling very happy, while those who volunteered more often were 12% more likely to report feeling high levels of happiness. The figure rose to 16% for those who volunteered on a weekly basis, which is a typical frequency for hospice volunteers(1).
What Do Hospice Volunteers Do?
There are many ways that patient care volunteers pass time with hospice patients. They typically travel to wherever the patient is currently living, whether it is at home or in a long-term care facility or nursing home.
These volunteers do not provide hands-on care or any type of medical care. Instead, they spend time with the patient and keep them company. This might entail playing the patient’s favorite games, talking to them about current events or other topics that interest them, helping them prepare meals or do some simple chores around the house, helping their caregiver with errands, transporting the patient to doctor’s appointments, or grocery shopping.
Administrative volunteers, meanwhile, help with tasks like answering phone calls, working on fundraisers, preparing mailings, and data entry.
Hospice volunteers typically undergo training that includes information about the philosophy and mission of hospice care as well as the services that it provides. Volunteers learn how they can effectively communicate with patients and their caregivers and how they can help families cope with loss and grief.
They learn about the mental, spiritual and emotional issues that can arise at the end of a patient’s life and discuss appropriate boundaries and patient health privacy so they are fully prepared for their work.
Reach Out To Harbor Light Hospice
Becoming a hospice volunteer means giving people an incredible gift at a very difficult moment. If you are interested in giving your time to patients who are nearing the end of their life or helping a hospice run smoothly through administrative assistance, get in touch with Harbor Light Hospice to find out more about how you can make a difference.