"You can't do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
He definitely knew the heart of a volunteer; it is being spontaneous with a "yes" when a need has to be met. I've been fortunate enough to be in the Hospice program since it's inception and can honestly say that my perspective on how I choose to live my life has been deeply enriched by the many people I have been in contact with through a variety of events, be it a fun fundraising event or in the quiet of a dying patients' home as they deal with the realities of a fast approaching death.
Life as a volunteer in Hospice is so fulfilling that a simple gesture of help can enrich and enlighten a patient's perspective on the rest of the day. If you have any reservations about your abilities as a volunteer, don't ever hesitate to say "yes" and embark on a journey with endless opportunities to touch others. YOU will be the one who comes away blessed!
Guidelines for Hospice Volunteers:
Requiring no special training, the time involvement varies with the task assigned, as well as the time one is available. Examples of services provided include: copying and assembling orientation manuals, preparing mailings, answering the phone and making calls, providing baked goods for fund raisers and snacks for classes.Hospice Friend - Direct Patient Volunteer:
- must complete a 20 hour hospice orientation program
- will occasionally be assigned as a Hospice Friend to a patient and family
- Once assigned, the time investment varies, usually an hour per week.
- acts as a friend to listen and provide support in end-of-life tasks and activities of preference for the patient and family
- maintains supportive contact with the patient and family
- notifies the Volunteer Coordinator or the Hospice Office if significant changes occur
- documents each contact with the patient and family and submits this weekly to Volunteer Coordinator
- attends Interdisciplinary Team meetings, educational and support meetings
- communicates with appropriate team resource members and Volunteer Coordinator as required and needed for additional information and support
- maintains patient/family confidentiality
- notifies on call staff when any emergency arises while visiting a patient
- Obtain some knowledge of the patient's needs, general condition and attitude before the visit.
- Contact the patient and care giver to arrange for a mutually convenient time for a visit.
- Endeavor to fill patient and family's needs as previously described.
- Any needs that are expressed by the patient and family that are in conflict with the instructions previously received shall be cleared with PCN or other Hospice team members before action is taken.
- Because our Hospice Friends in private homes do not have access to immediate supervision, they are expected to use good judgement and to be legally responsible for their acts while serving Hospice patients.
- Instead of making judgements, react to the needs as they are presented.
- Be a good listener and search out "leads" about the patients areas of interest.
- Recognize that there is nothing wrong in silence and that much support is given by just being in the room.
- Do not smoke in the patient's presence and do not wear perfumes. These actions are likely to aggravate the patient's nausea.
- If providing foods, consider that patients may have dietary limitations. Also consider that their tastes may change.
- The length of time spent with a patient and/or family varies and may depend on several things. If the patient tires or is in pain, the visit may be short. It is important to be aware of the needs of the patient, yet not retreat because of discomfort in being with him or her.
- Leave the patient and family with some idea of when your next visit will be.
- Remember to save something for yourself. Do not become physically or emotionally involved beyond your capabilities.
- Maintain your own lifestyle with favorite activities and recreational outlets.
- Do not feel the need to have all the answers or solutions to all the problems. It is an honest answer to state, "I don't know. I'll try to find out."
- Confidentiality is important. All information involving your contact with the patient and family is confidential.
In situations where respite for the family is being given, the Hospice Friend can continue procedures that have been set up by the family as a routine. However, this does not include any kind of physical nursing care. Hospice Friends are instructed: When in Doubt, Don't.