Hospice volunteer Charlene Cotting performs reiki at the Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln, MA.
When she first considered being a hospice volunteer, Charlene Cotting of Bedford never anticipated how many amazing moments she would experience and just how those moments would touch her life.
Upon retiring from her full-time job in 2013, Charlene had two goals: to give back and to connect with a community. With her background in nursing and having had personal experiences with hospice for both of her parents, becoming a hospice volunteer seemed like a good fit. She researched hospice volunteer programs and decided to enroll in the Care Dimensions volunteer training.
Reiki helps hospice patients relax
When Charlene began her volunteer journey with Care Dimensions, she visited patients at their homes for companionship and offered reiki sessions. Reiki is a gentle relaxation technique that uses the laying of hands on a patient to promote a feeling of well-being, stress and pain reduction, and energy transfer and balancing. Charlene had been practicing reiki for many years, so she was happy to incorporate it into volunteer visits. “As a reiki practitioner, I was pleased to have found a hospice that offered so many complementary therapy programs to provide comfort to both the patients and their families,” she said.
Although Charlene loves both types of volunteer sessions, she has chosen to focus most of her time where her passion lies: helping hospice patients by giving them reiki. “With reiki I can provide patients with a period of feeling relaxed and peaceful, and it is so amazing to be able to give that,” she said. When the Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln opened in 2018, Charlene began offering reiki sessions to patients there, too.
Rewards of hospice volunteering
Charlene said what she gets in return from volunteering is even bigger than what she gives. She has fond memories of interacting with many patients who have changed her life, including one person with dementia who seemed unaware of Charlene’s presence. The patient could say some individual words, but could no longer speak complete sentences. One day, when Charlene went to say goodbye, the patient said, “Thank you so much for coming.” This moment truly touched Charlene.
“These were more words than she had ever put together in a sentence before,” recalled Charlene. “It had a profound impact on me, and this was certainly one of many touching and memorable moments I have had volunteering with Care Dimensions.”
Learn about our hospice volunteer program and our upcoming trainings.
About the author
Rebecca Brackett is a temporary marketing associate with Care Dimensions.