Volunteering Your Time Means Everything to Hospice Patients
Posted on November 24, 2017 by Sheryl Meehan
"I love my hospice work,” said Jennifer, a volunteer with Care Dimensions since 2009. “It's a privilege to work with such wonderful patients and their families at this challenging time in their lives."
People like Jennifer can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of a hospice patient. Take for example, Mrs. Brown. While she was contented and well-cared for in a long-term care facility, she had no family or close friends to visit her. One day, as she sat across from the nurse’s station, she heard someone announce that they were there to see her. Her head popped up and with an enormous smile she beamed, “For me?” Mrs. Brown finally had a visitor – a hospice volunteer.
Many opportunities for hospice volunteers
Hospice volunteers play a vital role in helping patients and their families feel supported. And there are many different opportunities for volunteers. While caring for patients and families at end of life can have sad moments, the majority of work focuses on helping people live each day to the fullest. At Care Dimensions, our volunteers overwhelmingly agree that this experience is rewarding. Ask any of them to describe their volunteer involvement, and you will hear that they get so much more than they give.
The reasons people volunteer are as varied as the volunteers themselves: some want to say thank you for a personal hospice experience; others to make a difference for someone else; and a few volunteer for the love of giving to others and a passion for the hospice mission.
What else should you know about being a hospice volunteer?
- Even two hours a week is enough. Seventy percent of our volunteers work full- or part-time and they range in ages from 18 to 97. There is no right or wrong way to volunteer. Everyone’s time and availability differs. Unlike some other volunteer opportunities, hospice volunteering can be done in the evenings and on weekends.
- Follow your talents. Do you have a specialized skill, talent, or a hobby you could share? Landscaping, pet therapy, crafts, music, computer support, cribbage, reading aloud, cooking, and Reiki are just a few examples. Sharing in good conversation is also simple but important.
- Support and training. Volunteers receive initial training that prepares them to handle the role they’ve selected, whether that involves spending time directly with patients and families, helping at the Kaplan Family Hospice House, or providing office support. In addition, we provide ongoing support and volunteer education through workshops, networking, and other activities.
- It starts with a phone call or an online application. A phone call is not a commitment. We often hear from people who called for more information but couldn’t commit the time at that point, and then finally started volunteering months later when their schedule allowed. We’re very flexible and often able to accommodate people’s schedules. Any amount of time is helpful, and even if you are just exploring options for the future, we would still love to hear from you. You can apply at www.CareDimensions.org/volunteerapplication. Sign up for our volunteering e-newsletter to learn about upcoming trainings.
- We have specialized volunteer opportunities. After you complete the initial training, we have several specialized trainings for volunteers who want to work with our Veteran-to-Veteran program or LGBT patients, make bereavement calls, provide bedside vigil, and many other options. Call us at 978-750-9349 to learn more.
A little gift of time can have a tremendous impact on the lives of others. And that can make all the difference in the world – for you and for them.
Care Dimensions offers volunteer training classes several times each year in Waltham, Danvers, and Burlington, MA. See our Volunteers page for information about upcoming trainings.
While our website will give you a better understanding about hospice care and the services that Care Dimensions provides, no one can tell the true story quite like our patients, families and staff. We encourage you to take a moment and read their stories and watch our videos.
You’ll be forever changed as you learn about life’s difficult final journey and the amazing patients, caregivers and staff who’ve embarked on the experience together.