One volunteer for every one patient. That's Frances "Frannie" Bernard's goal for the Riverside Hospice program this year. This month, Bernard, the volunteer support services coordinator for hospice, along with her fellow hospice team members, are calling on more people in the community to get involved. Riverside Hospice is a not-for-profit, Medicare-certified agency providing compassionate care to patients and their families of all ages who are facing a life-limiting illness.

Volunteers are an integral part of the hospice team, providing a range of services which may include companionship to a patient, respite for a caregiver, bereavement support for families, assistance with fundraisers or administrative help in the hospice office. "Riverside Hospice program's mission is to care for others as we would care for our loved ones. Hospice focuses on comfort not cure," Bernard said. "Hospice is not about giving up hope but redefining hope. Hope for comfort, family time, quality and dignity of life."

People, patients and families need hope, always. "We try to redirect that hope, redefine hope," said Dr. Gregg Shivers, who serves as the Medical Director at Riverside Walter Reed Hospice on the Middle Peninsula. "We focus less on extending life, and more on the quality of life, giving patients more quality time in the place of their choice." Helping enhance those final days, weeks and months of quality time is the powerful impact hospice volunteers can help make for patients and their families.

"It takes a special person to be a hospice volunteer and it gives them a sense of deep satisfaction to know they have made a difference in the lives of others," Bernard said. "Our volunteers say they feel a calling for this, and that it is the most rewarding thing they have ever done." Most often, hospice volunteers are family members of those who have received hospice services in the past. They describe hospice as the "best thing that can happen to you at the worst time of your life," Bernard said.

Interested in volunteering? It only requires a few steps, Bernard said. Hospice volunteer training encompasses two four-hour sessions held at the volunteer's convenience. These training sessions can take place in the evenings, on weekends or other times depending on the volunteer's schedule. Requirements to become a volunteer include completion of the eight-hour training, a criminal background check and a test for tuberculosis and a flu vaccine.

In addition to volunteers, Riverside Hospice is looking for certified Companion Therapy Dogs and their Handlers. Dogs need to have a copy of their Certificate of Completion from Companion Therapy Dog training.  For more information about volunteering or participating with a Companion Therapy Dog, please call today, 804.693.1111.

ABOUT RIVERSIDE HOSPICE 
Riverside Hospice offers comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, palliative care to patients with a life-limiting illness or condition with a prognosis of six months. Riverside Hospice serves the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck area. Please contact Riverside Walter Reed Hospice for additional information about becoming a volunteer, to make a referral or to request a consultation for a patient or their family. 804.693.1111.
 

Published: February 9, 2016