Thousands of hospice volunteers are being recruited daily just like I was years ago. People follow that path for different reasons. For many, it is a unique opportunity to serve others at a critical time in their lives. Hospice volunteering has everything to do with using good common sense and applying knowledge gained through ongoing training. When it comes to patients, it is more about the volunteer being there with them than what the volunteer actually does. The patient senses and appreciates the volunteer’s presence.
The importance of being with a patient who doesn’t want to die alone is the reason many hospice programs are providing specialized volunteer vigil training. During vigil training, a volunteer is taught how to provide bedside support during the final days and hours of a patient’s life. Assistance for families is included. At some facilities, staff members also volunteer for vigil assignments. Vigils, which are based on a patient’s wishes, can include talking, praying, inspirational reading, playing music, performing rituals, touching and, of course, sharing silence. Reflecting the hospice philosophy, volunteer vigils help provide the patient with a more peaceful end-of-life experience.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
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