Many prospective hospice volunteers ask about the origin of the formal role of volunteers in hospice organizations. Some even ask how or why an organization such as VITAS comes to utilize volunteers in the communities we’re privileged to serve.
Like most hospice agencies, whose founding dates back to the earliest days of the hospice movement, VITAS began as an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. However, early in its existence, VITAS found that, as a non-profit, it didn’t have access to the capital that it needed to care for a growing number of the terminally ill. For-profit status has allowed VITAS to access capital for projects that have enhanced care for the terminally ill everywhere.
As for the role of volunteers in hospice, VITAS, in fact, is in large part responsible for the unique role volunteers play in the delivery of hospice care nationwide.
In 1978, a small group of volunteers in Miami began caring for an extraordinary woman, Emmy Philhour, who was dying of cancer. Emmy taught VITAS’ founders much about caring for the terminally ill. The lessons VITAS learned from Emmy are at the heart of VITAS Healthcare(r) we provide today.
One thing we learned from Emmy-and those patients VITAS cared for in its first years-was the invaluable role that volunteers can play in enhancing compassionate, end-of-life care.
When VITAS’ founders began to work with elected officials to create the first state and national hospice licensing laws, they specifically included volunteers in defining the interdisciplinary team of hospice caregivers. When the hospice benefit was added to Medicare, VITAS advocated that Medicare-certified hospice providers ensure that volunteer hours would equal at least 5 percent of the total patient care hours provided.
These requirements apply to ALL Medicare-certified hospice providers - public or private, secular or faith-based, for-profit or non-profit.
The Federal Regulations governing the Medicare Hospice Benefit go into great specificity regarding the role of hospice volunteers. These regulations address training of volunteers, role of volunteers, recruitment and retention of volunteers, documenting the cost-effectiveness of using volunteers and documenting the activities of volunteers.
VITAS is proud of the role its volunteers serve in providing quality hospice care; it is one of the many things that makes hospice unique in the world of healthcare. Volunteers enhance, expand, and energize the services that professional caregivers offer to hospice patients and their families, by establishing meaningful relationships, listening, supporting, and caring.
We thank you for your interest in becoming a hospice volunteer-whether at VITAS, or another hospice provider. We guarantee that the time you donate will be rewarding and fulfilling.
Senior Director VITAS Volunteer and Bereavement Services
4450 W.Eau Gallie Blvd., Suite 250, Melbourne, FL 32934, US
VITAS Healthcare recognizes the importance of a strong and innovative program. Volunteers are an integral part of the hospice program, allowing VITAS Healthcare to continue personalizing, enhancing and expanding services offered to patients and families. By exemplifying the VITAS Healthcare Values, volunteers serve as patient and family advocates and are proactive in meeting the needs of patients and families. VITAS Healthcare integrates volunteers into the hospice team by actively recruiting, training, supporting and creatively utilizing volunteers to meet patient and family needs. Volunteers and their contributions are respected and valued.
Volunteers are the heart of VITAS Healthcare, providing friendly, non-medical patient and family care and offering support services in our office. VITAS Healthcare is looking for volunteers who are able to share their time with hospice patients living at home, nursing homes or ALF. Hospice volunteers give their time to terminally ill patients and their caregivers during a critical time. In orientation classes they are trained in listening skills, family dynamics and the right words to say to patients and their loved ones at the end of life.
VITAS takes pride in its volunteers, and we welcome you to become part of our team. There are many locations throughout the Brevard County area you can choose from. Your commitment is completely up to you and your time is always appreciated. For more information visit www.VITAS.com.