Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hospice Volunteers With No Patients (Video 1:34)

I have heard so many people say they admire what hospice volunteers do, but they couldn’t do that kind of work themselves. Maybe they don’t know that there are other ways they can provide admirable hospice service more appropriate to their personal comfort zones.

My class in training to become a hospice volunteer consisted of a dozen students from varied backgrounds. All of us were eager to learn what hospice entailed and what our future responsibilities might be. That class taught me the basics of what I would need in my role as a volunteer supporting patients and their families. I felt comfortable making a commitment to serving patients in inner-city Detroit nursing homes, instead of private homes. After I started volunteering, I thrived in that environment just as I had while working in inner-city schools.

But a few months later, I noticed a member of my former training class working at the front desk of the hospice organization. When we talked, she explained that she had been unhappy working directly with terminally ill patients. She especially didn’t like working in nursing homes, but service in private homes was also not attractive. When she mentioned her concerns to the hospice coordinator, she was given other service options. Those options included involvement with office work, community outreach, and fundraising. She chose office work and said she felt fulfilled and productive supporting hospice in this manner. She especially liked communicating with visitors.

Ultimately, we had both found our respective niches where we could make our best contributions as volunteers. I encourage anyone considering hospice volunteering to keep in mind that there are various ways to serve. Hospice organizations can give you a variety of options from which to choose. They could not function without the dedicated services of thousands of volunteers and the diverse talents they bring.

In this video, a volunteer of Hospice of the Western Reserve describes how she educates the community about hospice services through public speaking and representation at conferences and events.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many online and offline booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online stores.

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