When it becomes clear that a patient may be alone at the end of life, perhaps because their family cannot be at the bedside, hospice staff may request a Vigil when the patient transitions to actively dying.
Vigil Volunteers are at the bedside of actively dying patients. These specifically trained volunteers help support the patients every step of the way by bringing relief to family members who are unable to be present for the death of their loved one. And, most importantly, they help to ensure patients that they are not alone. Due to the urgency of the request, the Volunteer Department immediately alerts Vigil Volunteers. Typically a Vigil Sitter is at the patient’s bedside within an hour. A Vigil is established in two-hour shifts from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm or during the timespans that the family or caregiver requests, and continues until the patient dies.
All Vigil Volunteers have three hours of additional specialized training, during which they are taught the importance and process of being present, signs of approaching death, cross-cultural perspectives and words of comfort for family members who may be present. The training is taught by a Spiritual Care Counselor and a Registered Nurse.
Sitting at the bedside of a patient in the final hours or days of his or her life is a great honor. Often, patients are not conscious during this time and one might assume there is no benefit to having another person in the room. Our hospice staff feels this is a time when another human’s presence can be comforting, calming and supportive - thereby reducing fear and anxiety for the patient.
Vigil Volunteers often say they enter the room of a complete stranger and leave as a special and sacred visitor. Family members regularly comment that it was especially heartwarming for them to know that their loved one was cared for so lovingly.
Our Vigil Volunteers are trained and pledge to:
* Be fully present for the patient
* Hold a place of love in the room
* Sing, read or speak softly
* Just "be" with the patient
* Hold a hand
* Play soft music
Good Match For
Requirements & Commitment
- Driver's License Needed
- Background Check
- Must be at least 18
- Orientation or Training