Hospice volunteers: Making an impact on a person’s life

December 20, 2022

Healthy Aging
Female Neighbor Helping Senior Woman With Shopping

Hospice care provides meaningful, dignified support for people facing end-of-life, and their families. “Before hospice care became a formal health care specialty, and the services were provided by volunteers,” explains Thomas Harrington, Palliative Care Physician with Riverside Lifelong Health. Hospice volunteers continue to make a huge impact on the lives of people in their final days, and their loved ones.

What hospice volunteers do

Hospice volunteers are indispensable to providing this end-of-life care. They provide:

  • Assistance with paperwork for the end-of-life process 
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Direct care – working with people and their loved ones
  • Meaningful human connection
  • Support for families – such as shopping, cleaning or cooking

Beyond working directly with patients and families, hospice volunteers can also make indirect contributions. These opportunities include helping with mailings for the hospice organization, filing paperwork, data entry and planning community events and outings.

The difference hospice volunteers make

Hospice volunteers have the ability to get to know people and their loved ones and to establish real connections. Listening to stories about the person’s younger life or sharing a laugh can help immensely during challenging times. Hospice volunteers may also lift spirits and foster connections by helping a pet visit their person in the hospice facility.

Benefits of being a hospice volunteer

Hospice volunteers make a difference in the lives of people and their families. But being a hospice volunteer often provides:

  • A better acceptance of death and its place in the lifecycle
  • A sense of gratification and contribution to your community
  • An enhanced appreciation for life what is most important
  • A deeper understanding of cultures and life perspectives different than your own

Training to be a hospice volunteer

“Virtually anyone with the will to help others and make real connections can become a hospice volunteer,” explains Dr. Harrington. The qualification criteria varies by hospice agency but, in general, hospice volunteers are trained to:

  • Communicate effectively with patients and families
  • Know the laws and regulations around patient health information
  • Provide appropriate support for grief, loss and bereavement
  • Recognize and respect boundaries with the patient and family when providing care
  • Understand the hospice philosophy of care
  • Understand the scope of services that the hospice agency offers

Become a hospice volunteer 

To learn more about volunteering with Riverside Health System Hospice, please call 757-594-2745 or email Ceilniece at [email protected].

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