To become a hospice volunteer one has to be truly generous and compassionate. Volunteers provide care and support to patients with a few days to live.
They also help in the smooth running of the organization by completing administrative tasks. To become a volunteer you must undergo various training including ways to communicate with the patients and caregivers, the best techniques for providing comfort to patients and their families, hospice’s mission and philosophy among others.
These helpers interact emotionally with other patients in a way that nurses or doctors cannot. That said, here are some of the duties of a hospice volunteer. You can also checkout some hospice volunteer services around you for more details.
Support for Patients
Hospice volunteers provide care and support to patients on behalf of their family members. This may include taking walks, visiting, therapeutic visits with pets, playing music, reading stories among others.
Those who are skilled masseuses can also provide massage therapy to the patients. This could be at the patient’s home, long-term care facility, or nursing home. Generally, they spend time with the patient, talking with them and entertaining them. They may also cook for the patient and do grocery shopping.
Respite and Support for Family Members
Patients in hospice require maximum care, 24/7 a day. The activities involved in taking care of the sick can take a toll on a family member. Volunteers assist with basic household maintenance so that the caregivers can rest and have some time alone.
Child Care Assistance
Caregivers who are parents might find it difficult to juggle between taking care of the sick and their children.
Considering how handful raising kids can be, they will need all the support they can get. This may include providing necessary transportation to practices, sporting or meetings, picking up kids from school, clinic visits, and babysitting.
Volunteers can also provide comfort and emotional support to kids whose parents are in hospice care.
Special Skills and Interests
If you are a skilled barber, beautician, makeup artist, or notary, many hospices can utilize such skills. Beauticians can volunteer to groom the patients and give them a sense of belonging. Everyone wants to look good regardless of their state. Other useful skills include landscaping and maintaining their grounds. Read more here.
Bereavement Support Programs
Families who have lost their loved ones may require maximum support during such tough times. As a volunteer, you can visit their homes, comfort them and help them with chores. Hospice volunteers also work closely with the hospice’s bereavement staff. Their main roles may include helping with mailings to families, serving refreshments, and helping a support group facilitator.
Fundraising and Administrative Work
Volunteers with clerical skills are just as essential as those who work directly with patients. They can help with various administrative duties such as answering phone calls, preparing mailings and leaflets, data entry and clerical duties, assisting with fundraising campaigns to name a few.
If you are a certified administrator, you can use those skills to help around the organization. Still, if you wish to become an administrator and you don’t have any administrative skills, your hospice can provide you with the training you need.
Pet Therapy Volunteers
Pets are naturally cuddly and adorable. Research suggests that people with pets lead happier and more fulfilling life than those without.
Cuddling with a pet can boost a patient’s overall comfort, lower their blood pressure and reduce physical pain. If you have a pet and they are calm around new people, consider volunteering with your pet at a hospice organization.
If you are interested in joining a pet therapy program, find out which organization is looking for a new pet for its pet program. Both you and your pet may be required to go through some training on the best ways to relate with patients.
As the saying goes, “music is food for the soul”. Most hospice patients enjoy listening to music because it brings them peace and happiness.
Music therapy affects people emotionally and can help them sleep better. It also connects people and makes them happy. If you’re good at playing instruments, your local hospice may make use of your talent.
You can bring your instruments with you on your next visit and entertain the patients with some of your favorite songs. You can also play some of the patient’s requests. This way, patients can relax and enjoy their private concerts. Click here to read on how you can become a volunteer.
To become a hospice volunteer one must be approximately 18 years and above. Still, there are programs designed specifically for high school student volunteers. Volunteers make an essential part of the hospice team, providing roles that range from direct care to administrative and fundraising support for the organization. One must be emotionally available, selfless, and extremely compassionate to become a successful helper. Most organizations will provide extra training to prepare the volunteers for the tasks involved.
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