What a Hospice Volunteer Does
Volunteers are the heart of hospice for they provide that extra level of care, comfort, and support that makes all the difference to patients and families. The hospice volunteer is an essential member of the interdisciplinary care team. In fact, the hospice volunteer is so much a part of the hospice philosophy of care that the federal government requires Medicare-approved hospices to utilize volunteers a minimum of 5% of the total hours of patient care of all paid hospice employees.
Volunteers serve as members of the hospice team by sharing skills and interests in a manner that provides comfort and enriches the quality of life for those they serve. Hospice volunteers come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and professions. No task is too big or too small for a dedicated hospice volunteer. Often the most important thing a volunteer can do is just “be there” for patients to reassure them they are not alone.
The roles of volunteers are quite diverse but generally fall within one of two categories:
- Volunteers who are directly involved with bringing companionship and support to the patient and their family are usually called Patient Care Volunteers or Companion Volunteers. These volunteers visit patients, read, write letters, perform light household tasks, assist with shopping and errands, offer support to family members, and most importantly of all they listen to what the patient says. Patient companion volunteers do not provide personal care, grooming, dressing, or assist with patient hygiene. These tasks are performed by our Home Health Aides.
- Volunteers who indirectly support the work of the hospice by helping in the office, assisting with mailings and special projects, and perform clerical tasks.
The Benefits of Being a Hospice Volunteer
Hospice volunteers find it personally gratifying and emotionally meaningful to assist those in need at a most critical time in their lives. Like those who volunteer for other causes, hospice volunteers say they feel like they’re truly making a difference. Some hospice volunteers say that working with hospice patients helps them to come to terms with their own mortality while at the same time giving them a greater appreciation of life. Working with those at the end-of-life also helps prepare one for the changes they will experience with members of their own family.
Hospice volunteers often express their work with patients and families as a blessing in their own lives. To be invited into the last months, weeks, and days of a person’s life is an honor and a privilege. Being there with people through the dying process helps one keep focused on what’s really important in their own lives.
Although it’s not always easy work, the personal rewards are enormous. You will have the opportunity to learn and grow and perhaps to discover some pretty amazing things about yourself. The strength and courage of those you serve will be a constant source of inspiration, and volunteers usually feel they gain more than they have been able to give.
Hospice Volunteer Training
To ensure that all volunteers are prepared for the challenge of working with the dying, Del Corazon Hospice requires volunteers to go through extensive training and orientation which is provided by the hospice at no charge.
Training includes the following:
- Introduction to the history of hospice
- The goals and philosophy of hospice care
- Family dynamics
- Advanced directives, Living Wills, and funeral planning
- Pain and symptom control
- Communication and listening skills
- Confidentiality (HIPPA Guidelines)
- What to expect during the stages of death
- Signs of approaching death
- Grief and bereavement
Those volunteers serving in a role that does not involve direct patient interaction require basic orientation and training to perform the specific task that they will be involved in while supporting the hospice. However, administrative/office volunteers are welcome to participate in the full training program if they wish.
The Commitment to Become a Hospice Volunteer
Del Corazon Hospice asks those interested in volunteering to work 4 hours per week and commit to at least 6 months. In addition to completion of the training program, volunteers are asked to attend in-services and volunteer meetings throughout the year, undergo a background check, and participate in annual TB testing.
How to Become a Del Corazon Hospice Volunteer
The first step is to call the Volunteer Coordinator and schedule an interview. Prior to the interview, you will be asked to complete a confidential application. Once you have completed the interview and the Volunteer Coordinator has conducted a satisfactory background screening and reference check, you will be invited to attend the training. To insure your protection, as well as that of your patients, before you are assigned a patient, you must receive a negative result to your TB test. The fee for the testing is paid for by Del Corazon Hospice.
We are seeking volunteers to offer companionship and support to our patients and their families, as well as volunteers interested in working in our office and on special projects. Del Corazon Hospice will provide free training and offer flexible scheduling to accommodate your needs. Please consider enriching lives as a Del Corazon Hospice volunteer.
We’re waiting for your call at (505) 988-2049.