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Volunteers are at the Heart of Hospice Care

Hospice care was developed by the commitment and vision of volunteers. Traditionally, volunteers have been the backbone of the hospice movement and are still an indispensable part of any hospice program. The federal government recognizes the importance of volunteers in the delivery of hospice care and requires that Medicare-approved hospices utilize volunteers from their community. About 100,000 people serve as hospice volunteers nationally. They give millions of hours of their time to serve terminally ill patients and their families.

Volunteers Serve as a Member of the Hospice Team

Those who volunteer share skills and interests in a manner that provides comfort and enriches the quality of life for those served. Volunteers serve on a regularly scheduled basis and provide the following:

Support Services
Companionship, friendly visiting, active listening, bedside sitting, letter writing

Sharing hobbies & Special Interests
Reading, gardening, listening to music, sports, travel, crafts, etc

Assisting with Errands
Grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and other supplies

Transportation
Appointments, shopping, social outings

Homemaking Tasks
Light housekeeping, dishes, laundry, meal preparation, childcare

Other Volunteer Opportunities Include

  • Providing help with special projects
  • Mailings
  • Reception
  • Clerical support or working with special events such as memorial services and fundraising events
  • Community education and public speaking

Some volunteers choose to share their professional expertise by serving in advisory capacities as a member of the hospice’s board of directors or on other board committees.

No Task is Too Big or Too Small for a Hospice Volunteer

Often, the most important thing you can do is just be there for patients to reassure them they are not alone. To hold a hand, to offer a smile, or to just listen. It is not easy work, but the personal rewards are enormous. Patients display strength and courage and provide a constant source of inspiration. Volunteers usually feel they gain more than they have been able to give.

Hospice volunteers often express that working with patients and families is a blessing. Volunteers receive satisfaction in knowing they’ve made a real difference in the life of a patient or family. To be invited into the last months, weeks, or days of a person’s life is an honor and a privilege.

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