Hospice volunteers play a vital role in hospice care organizations. They’re able to keep patients company when family and friends are not able to be there, help hospice care organizations with their administrative work, and much more. Volunteers help hospice organizations provide a high level of patient care.
If you’re thinking of volunteering for a local hospice, you may be unsure about what tasks you’ll be asked to do. To help you decide if hospice volunteering is for you, here a few of the things that you may do as a hospice care volunteer.
Patient Care Volunteers
Patient care volunteers spend their days with hospice patients. Volunteers travel to the place where the patient currently lives. This could be the patient’s home, a nursing home, or a long-term care facility. Volunteers do not provide any medical or hands-on care. They simply spend time with the patient, talking with them and keeping them company. Volunteer also often play the patient’s favorite games with them, like cards or chess. Volunteers may also talk with patients about current events if that’s something that the patient is interested in. Some of the other things patient care volunteers do include:
- Grocery shopping
- Preparing meals for patients
- Helping with simple chores around the house
- Transporting the patient to their doctor’s appointments
- Providing comfort and support
- Helping the patient’s caregiver with their errands and other daily tasks
- Informing hospice staff of the patients’ needs
Patient care volunteers provide a vital service for the hospice patients. They’re able to give patients someone who will listen to their stories and talk with them. This type of volunteering is perfect for compassionate, empathetic people who want to help patients who are at the end of their life.
Administrative volunteers have just as important a role in a hospice organization as volunteers who work directly with patients. Administrative volunteers do a number of different tasks in the hospice organization’s office. These tasks may include:
- Preparing mailings and leaflets
- Helping in thrift stores
- Answering phone calls
- Assisting with fundraising campaigns
- Setting up and manning booths at community outreach events
- Helping with data entry and other clerical duties
If you have previously worked in an office, administrative volunteering would be a good choice for you. You’ll be able to use the skills you’ve learned in your previous jobs to help the hospice care organization with their day-to-day tasks. If you haven’t done any administrative work before, don’t worry—your hospice organization will provide you with training before you begin. The most important thing is to be enthusiastic and excited about helping the hospice care organization with their community outreach and administrative tasks.
Many hospice patients love listening to live music. If you play an instrument, consider becoming a music volunteer at your local hospice. As a music volunteer, you’ll bring your instrument with you when you’re visiting patients. You can play some of your favorite songs for the patient, and you can also take some requests from the patient. Patients will love getting to relax and listen to their own private concert.
Pet Therapy Volunteers
Animals have many proven benefits for hospice patients. Cuddling with a pet can lower a patient’s blood pressure, reduce physical pain, and increase levels of overall comfort. If your pet is calm and good with meeting new people, consider volunteering with your pet at a hospice organization. If you’re interested in doing this type of volunteering, contact your local hospice organization and see if they are looking for new pets for their pet programs. The hospice organization will typically train both you and your pet in the best ways to interact with patients.
Certified Massage Therapist Volunteers
If you’re a certified massage therapist, you can volunteer to use your skills at a hospice organization in your area. Hospice organizations look for volunteers who can give patients massages, do reiki, or perform other types of therapy that relaxes patients and helps them practice self-care. If you are a certified massage therapist, contact hospice organizations in your area and see if you can help.
Hospice Volunteers Training
Before you begin working as a hospice volunteer, you’ll be given training. In most hospice organizations, this training will include:
- A briefing on the hospice’s philosophy and mission
- A comprehensive overview of the services the hospice care provides
- Ways to effectively communicate with patients and caregivers
- An overview of patient health and information privacy
- Ways to assist patients and their families with loss and grief
- The best practices for providing support to patients and their loved ones
- A briefing on the emotional, mental, and spiritual issues that arise at the end of a patient’s life
- An overview of appropriate boundaries between volunteers, patients, and families
Your training will vary in length depending on what role you’re taking on. During the training, you’ll be able to ask any questions you have about working as a hospice volunteer. You’ll also get to know people who work in the hospice organization.
Benefits of Being a Hospice Volunteer
Many volunteers say that volunteering in a hospice gives them a deeper appreciation for life. They say that they’re less likely to get upset about small annoyances, like traffic jams or long lines at the store. Hospice volunteers feel a deep sense of satisfaction at being able to help someone at the end of their life, and they feel like they’ve made a real, significant contribution to their community. Hospice volunteers also get to make deep connections with patients and their families.
Becoming a Hospice Volunteer
Hospice volunteers are truly compassionate people. They generously give their time to patients who are at the ends of their lives. They also help hospice organizations run smoothly by completing administrative tasks. Hospice volunteers play many different roles, and they are an important part of every hospice organization.
If you’re interested in being a volunteer at Harbor Light Hospice, contact us through our online form. We’ll then discuss the role you’re interested in taking on, and we’ll give you an overview on the training that you will need.