By Kathy Hubbard
It’s not about death and dying. It’s about living. It’s about the quality of life for a terminally ill person. It’s about comfort, compassion and companionship. It’s about hospice care and all they can do for not only the patient, but his or her family and friends.
Right now, Bonner Community Hospice is looking for volunteers to begin training to find their niche in the various aspects of hospice care. Is that you? Can you start training on Monday, February 29 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.? You bring the desire and this eight-week series of classes will teach you about the services hospice provides, the role volunteers play in the hospice care team, the philosophy of care and much more.
It’s important to point out right now that volunteering for hospice doesn’t necessarily mean client contact. There are many administrative and organizational opportunities to serve the hospice team as well. From community outreach in the form of creating newsletters to grief education, to clerical assistance, to providing meals to families, to activity and event planning there is something for all types of skills and inclinations.
“Many of the volunteers tell me how much they grow, and that the benefits they receive are greater for them than the client and families they serve,” Lissa DeFreitas, Volunteer Coordinator of Bonner Community Hospice said. The application deadline is Friday, February 19, and you can contact DeFreitas at 265-1185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When asked about time commitment, DeFreitas said that it’s up to the volunteer to make that call. Aside from the training, there are no set times or minimum number of hours.
“For example, we have some volunteers who commit to three to four hours per week in the office. We have direct client volunteers that offer ongoing weekly respite or companioning outreach to clients and families once or twice a week for approximately two hours per visit.
“There are bereavement volunteers that commit to facilitating group sessions a couple of times a month, or heading up classes that are held in the spring and fall. We have regular and ongoing volunteers that assist with volunteer tracking and bereavement calls and outreach and our newest group, bedside vigil volunteers, who are committed to be on call to sit with the client at the end of life.”
DeFreitas said that there are volunteers who specifically offer their time for fundraising, like the annual Rose Event, and others who provide community outreach a couple of times a month with varying schedules. There are those who volunteer to assist with Kids Camp, a summer youth grief acceptance camp for children who’ve lost a parent or sibling.
“Volunteers are also encouraged to take advantage of continuing education approximately six hours per year,” De Freitas said. “This last year, we have had many educational opportunities concerning planning for the end of life – the importance of advance directives and having conversations way before an illness actually occurs,” she said.
Anyone who has benefitted from hospice care can tell you how valuable their services are. They provide a team well-versed in maximizing the comfort for a person who is terminally ill by reducing pain and addressing physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. They guide the family through the process by providing respite care, counseling and practical support.
“It is an honor beyond words to have the opportunity to grow with our volunteers,” DeFreitas said. “On an ongoing basis, we are exploring the unique experience of being a volunteer and reflecting upon ways we can reach more of our community family in need. Through their eyes and experience I am able to explore new programs, ideas and ways to grow the benefits of our hospice,” DeFreitas said.
If you are able and if you have the time and inclination, hospice volunteering can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Think about it.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or email@example.com.