Being a hospice care volunteer can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Hospice care assists people who are nearing the end of their lives, and volunteers form a big part of the “whole person” approach to maximizing quality of life during this time. Many hospice volunteers describe their work as being emotionally meaningful and gratifying. The training for hospice volunteers includes many tasks and learning experiences.
Hospice volunteers may choose to work directly with patients, spending time with them and providing companionship. The bond they form can be very comforting and meaningful to both the patient and the volunteer. Other volunteers might prefer to work behind the scenes, handling administrative or clerical tasks instead.
There are a few requirements to keep in mind when seeking to become a hospice volunteer. There may be a minimum age requirement, although some hospices have programs for high school students. People who have recently had a loved one die in hospice care may be interested in giving back soon afterward, but hospices generally suggest that recently bereaved potential volunteers wait a certain amount of time before volunteering in direct care. Prospective volunteers will be asked to submit to a background check as well as attend orientation and training sessions.
Things You Learn In Training
Hospice volunteers are given training to ensure they are fully prepared to take on the tasks involved. The exact topics and length of training will depend on their specific role in the organization. Below are some of the topics that most hospice training will cover.
Mission And Philosophy Of Hospice Care
The training for hospice volunteers often begins with an overview of the general mission and philosophy of hospice care. It is focused on treating the “whole” patient rather than simply administering medication. This holistic approach uses an interdisciplinary team that addresses the person’s physical, spiritual and emotional needs.
Hospice care aims to eliminate certain taboos about death and replace them with a more open dialogue that helps patients plan to live well during their remaining time. Volunteering for hospice should be considered as a role of compassionate service that is aimed at making the end of life process for patients and their families as comfortable as possible.
Best Practices And Procedures
Training also covers the best practices and procedures for giving patients’ families emotional support after the patient has passed away, including coverage of emergency procedures. The services offered by a particular hospice will be outlined in their training.
Those who are working in administrative roles, such as fundraising, working at a thrift shop or data entry, are also given relevant training.
Communication skills is one of the most important topics addressed by hospice training. Direct care volunteers who spend time with patients must know how to best listen to patients when they express themselves and how to provide a comforting and supportive presence.
Volunteers also learn how they can be respectful when patients share their life experiences with them. In some cases, patients may wish to discuss unresolved issues or regrets from their lives. Volunteers learn how to listen without judgment and provide answers that are comforting. They also learn how to identify their boundaries as a volunteer when they are interacting with patients and their families.
Training often covers the best ways to navigate communication with patients’ family members. Many times, loved ones are stressed, anxious, worried and depressed. There may also be tension between family members over certain aspects of care. Volunteers learn about the issues that surround patients’ interpersonal and family relationships.
Understanding Of End Of Life Process
Volunteers learn about the end of life process so they know what to expect as the patient progresses from living toward death. They learn what changes the body undergoes and how the patient’s mental and emotional state may evolve.
They also learn about some of the most common chronic and life-limiting illnesses and injuries that they can expect to encounter as they work with hospice. In addition, the topics of patient privacy and health information privacy are covered.
Skills To Adapt To Uncertain Times
Hospice volunteers learn the skills needed to adapt to uncertain times. While much of what they might encounter will have been covered by training, the process of death and each patient’s individual health circumstances and family situations may occasionally present some unexpected challenges. Hospice volunteers learn the best ways to handle general uncertainty as well as unanticipated events, and they will have the support of the patient’s hospice care team throughout the entire process.
Reach Out To Learn More About Training For Hospice Volunteers
If you are interested in giving your time to make a real difference in people’s lives, get in touch with the team at Harbor Light Hospice to learn more about the process involved in becoming a volunteer.