We often say that volunteers are at the heart of hospice, and that’s quite literally true.
A lot of people don’t realize that Hosparus Health was started by volunteers – volunteer doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers and many others.
They believed then, as we do now, that everyone deserves a peaceful ending. Now, 40 years after our founding, volunteers still play a vital role in how Hosparus Health delivers compassionate care.
To remain an accredited hospice provider, we are required to have at least 5 percent of our patient care delivered by volunteers. Right now, we have about 650 volunteers who do everything from patient support to helping out in our office, but we need even more.
Earlier this year, we expanded our services beyond traditional hospice to include advanced illness care, providing supportive care to anyone dealing with serious illness, not just those with a terminal diagnosis. As a result, the need for volunteers of all shapes and sizes is critical as we help more patients and families than ever before.
We know that the direct care we provide can be demanding, and some people may not be comfortable with the emotional toll it can take. If you’re apprehensive about working with seriously ill patients or those who are actively dying, we have many other opportunities for you to help.
Here are some examples of how you can get involved.
Care and Companionship
There is no doubt that our patient and family support volunteers are special people. Many of them have told us that they began volunteering for Hosparus Health because they felt “called” to help. If you feel a similar calling, your role is simple. In one-on-one time with a patient in their home setting, you might read a book aloud, reminisce about the past, or simply sit quietly and provide a calming presence.
You might read to patients, write letters for them, play music, games, share conversation, assist with light housekeeping and hobbies, or simply hold their hand so they are not alone. In a nutshell, you’ll be providing comfort and companionship to patients so that exhausted family caregivers can take a break.
You may also choose to become an 11th hour volunteer, providing comfort and compassionate care for our patients whose death is imminent. You will be a supportive presence to both the dying patient and their loved ones.
We are fortunate to have many volunteers who share their special talents. Licensed hair stylists and massage therapists make patients look good and feel good. Certified pet therapy animals and their handlers brighten the days of our patients and families, and music therapists bring moments of joy through the gift of song. All of these special services are provided wherever a patient calls home — their personal residence, a nursing facility or even a hospital or inpatient unit.
Our spiritual care volunteers include active and retired clergy from all faith traditions, who engage patients in familiar activities that provide spiritual comfort. They listen without judgment and help address spiritual issues during serious illness and at the end of life.
As part of the national We Honor Veterans program, Hosparus Health engages veteran volunteers to work with our veteran patients with serious illness. They visit military veteran patients, take part in special pinning ceremonies, present appreciation certificates, assist in replacing lost medals, share specialty holiday events, provide transportation and telephone support, and arrange for veterans to share life stories through the Veterans History Project.
In addition, anyone who can sew, knit or quilt is invited to donate handmade lap blankets. Many of our patients take great comfort from blankets that are made by loving hands. When the patient dies, the care blanket becomes a lasting gift to their family, often holding special memories.
Beyond Patient Care
If you prefer to stay behind the scenes, you can still make a big difference by helping in our offices. We can always use assistance with mailings, data entry and filing, as well as taking inventory, stocking and organizing medical supplies.
If you live in E-town or Campbellsville, please think about volunteering in one of our Thrift Shoppes. Retail volunteers help with receiving, sorting and pricing donations; placing and straightening items on the sales floor; and assisting customers.
You can help out at any of Hosparus Health’s special events and fundraisers throughout the year. We need help with planning and setup, as well as roles such as working the registration table during events.
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways you can support Hosparus Health. No matter which one you choose, we provide all of our volunteers with free training throughout Kentucky and Indiana each month.
We encourage you to check out the training calendar on our website and complete a volunteer application. As any of our current volunteers can attest, you’ll be glad you did.