The Hospice Volunteer
St. Joseph Hospice and Palliative Care volunteers are members of a dedicated group who share the desire to enrich the lives of others by giving their time.
Hospice volunteers understand the challenges that patients and their families face when coping with illness. They provide ongoing support and reassurance, and assist in a broad spectrum of services for the comfort of patients and their families.
Volunteers are an integral part of the hospice team. As a hospice volunteer you can make use of skills you already have, and develop new ones. Volunteer opportunities exist in all aspects of hospice, and can be designed to accommodate your schedule.
Hospice volunteers are special people that make a difference in the lives of those faced with a terminal illness. Click here (BR Volunteer Story) to read an article about one of the many wonderful volunteers at St. Joseph Hospice and how a relationship was forged between two unlikely individuals.
The Hospice Philosophy
Hospice is based on the belief that through sensitive, appropriate care and the support of a community, terminally ill patients and their families can begin to prepare to face the inevitable challenges ahead. Volunteers have made a difference to patients and their families, the staff of hospice agencies, their communities and to one another.
Each area of the Hospice program serves a unique purpose and each of those areas rely on the skill and dedication of volunteers to enhance the goal of hospice: which is to give excellent care to each patient and family member. Volunteers are a vital part of the St. Joseph Hospice “team approach” to caring for those entrusted to us.
Hospice volunteers have challenging jobs, which may include family care, nursing home visits, working at a health fair, helping with an agency project, and the list goes on. Each person brings a unique mix of talents and interests to the hospice experience and each volunteer is needed and appreciated by everyone in the hospice community.
Should you decide to become a hospice volunteer, you will experience one of the most life affirming and personally rewarding gifts you will ever receive!
Volunteers Must Be Receptive to All Aspects of the Hospice Concept
Requirements of Volunteers:
“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
- Maya Angelou
- Confidentiality: All volunteers should realize the importance of observing confidentiality concerning their patients. There should be no discussion of their cases or mentioning of patient’s other than in direct contact with other members of the hospice team. A signed statement of confidentiality is requested of all volunteers.
- Good Health: If there is a physical problem, it will be at the discretion of the volunteer coordinator whether or not to assign to a patient family unit, so as not to jeopardize the volunteer’s health or care of the patient and family. Lifting patient’s is not a requirement to be an effective volunteer.
- Transportation: The volunteer must be able to arrange for his/her own transportation.
- Training: All hospice volunteers must be graduates of the St. Joseph Hospice Volunteer Training Program.
- Minimal Time Volunteered: Time will be arranged according to individual schedules; however, once this is arranged it is hoped that volunteers will be able to accept the majority of requests for service and be available on short notice should the need arise.
- Dress: Hospice volunteers do not wear a uniform, but must wear their name tags and are expected to wear clothing suitable for their assignments.
- Identification: An identification badge will be issued to each volunteer to be worn while visiting his/her hospice patient and while attending hospice functions.
- Alcohol/Drugs: No volunteer will visit a patient while under the influence of alcohol or non prescription drugs.
Volunteer Job Summary
Men or women who complete an application form are interviewed and participate in the Hospice Training and In-Service Training Sessions. Those applicants completing this process are eligible to become volunteers. Exceptions to attendance of training may be for those volunteers wishing to help in the office only, or those who wish to work on Special Projects not requiring direct patient contact. All volunteers visiting patients and families must complete the training sessions prior to placement with a patient.
Example of Volunteer Opportunities:
- Respite: Respite volunteers provide relief to the caregiver, if only for a short while, allowing them to tend to their own needs. The volunteer receives the gift of being a companion to the patient. Quietly sitting and holding a hand, reading about current events or simply listening are some of the things a respite volunteer can offer.
- Errands: Unexpected needs arise daily with families and our staff. Delivering and picking up supplies, dropping off our brochures at various sites or helping set up a booth are always greatly appreciated.
- Office: Answering phones, data entry, filing or assisting with passing messages through to our team in the field are just a few of the jobs of an office volunteer. They are essential to timely and efficient processing of paperwork and the overall smooth operation of the office.
- Special Projects: Sending birthday or sympathy cards, creating gifts for the patient or the bereaved, networking with other volunteers, attending fairs to help educate the public about our services, and assisting with a newsletter or scrapbook are some of the many special projects in need of volunteers.
- Utilize Your Talent: Musical performances, massage therapy, art therapy, hair cuts/styling and pet therapy are a few of the ways you can help. The list is only limited by your imagination and talent.
Training seminars are held regularly. Volunteers are taught the hospice philosophy of intertwining the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of death and dying. Each volunteer will have the opportunity to discuss topics of concern and will have access to our staff of professionals to assist them in becoming comfortable dealing with families and patients faced with a terminal illness.
- Must be able to relate emotionally and responsibly to patients, and hospice employees.
- Teamwork is essential, as is patience and good listening skills.
- Must be open-minded to diverse cultural and religious values and lifestyles.
To become a hospice volunteer, contact the St. Joseph Hospice office nearest you or send an email to your local Volunteer Coordinator.