The spirit of hospice volunteering is borne from a genuine desire to give comfort, peace, and care to patients, caregivers, and families during the end of life. Hospice volunteers have a tremendous impact on the lives of the patients that they serve, the hospice team of which they are a part, and the families and friends of the terminally ill. Understanding the role of hospice volunteers, the ways in which volunteers can serve, and the impact that volunteering has on the lives of the patient, the patient’s family, and the volunteer, can better equip those who are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer.
Why Hospice Organizations Need Volunteers
The value of hospice volunteers cannot be overstated. Volunteers are commonly perceived by hospice patients and families as ordinary members of their local community. This relationship provides a feeling of normality for patients, as well as patients’ families and friends. Volunteers often connect with patients on a deep, personal level, which provides the hospice care team with valuable insights concerning the overall impact of the level of comfort and care that is provided.
Medicare-certified hospice programs are also federally mandated to integrate hospice volunteers into administrative or patient services. The United States government requires that the total number of hours that hospice volunteers contribute must equal at least 5% of the total number of patient care hours provided by paid hospice employees and contract staff.
Types of Hospice Volunteering
There are many ways in which hospice volunteers lend their time and effort to hospice organizations. Whether helping support patients, caregivers, and families directly, or by assisting the hospice with administrative work, there are always tasks in which the unique talents of each volunteer can be put to effective use. The ways in which hospice volunteers provide service are largely grouped into two categories: direct care volunteering and indirect care volunteering.
The Common Traits of Effective Hospice Volunteers
A part of what makes hospice volunteers so valuable, and such impactful members of a patient’s care team, is the unique life perspective and personality they offer. Though each volunteer is unique, there are several common traits that are indicative of an effective hospice volunteer:
- A spirit of compassion and understanding towards those who are on the end-of-life journey
- Respect for all ways of life, cultural customs, and religious views
- Keen understanding of personal limits
- The ability to listen and be comfortable in silence
Effective hospice volunteers recognize that their role is one of compassionate service. The presence and service of hospice volunteers is targeted towards ultimately providing patients, caregivers, and families with the most comfortable and compassionate end-of-life experience possible.
The Benefits of Becoming a Hospice Volunteer
While hospice volunteers have a tremendous impact on the lives of the patients, caregivers, and families they serve, the volunteers themselves also benefit from the giving of their time and talents. Hospice volunteers, particularly those who work directly with patients and families, commonly report:
- A greater appreciation for life and understanding of what is truly important
- A deeper understanding and acceptance of the role of death in the process of life
- An enriched understanding of different cultures and life perspectives
- A sense of fulfillment and contribution to the community
- Data Entry
- Office Reception
- Hospice Care
- Spiritual Healing
- Administrative Support
Good Match For
Requirements & Commitment
- Driver's License Needed
- Background Check
- Must be at least 18
- Orientation or Training
- 6 months to one-year, 1-2 hours a week
- Must complete Hospice training program and have previous experience with volunteering