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CCH | Camp Hill – October 10, 2012
By Aubrey Smith, Volunteer Coordinator

Caring and dedicated volunteers are an integral part of a Hospice team. Volunteers provide a number of services that help enhance the comfort and quality of life for a patient, their families and/or caregiver. Volunteers visit patients in their homes or nursing facilities. Volunteers contribute to the team in a number of ways which include: offering companionship and emotional support to patients and families, respite care, providing pet therapy, assisting with meal preparation or light housekeeping, sharing music or songs with patients, bereavement support or running errands as well as clerical support to office staff. Any amount of time a volunteer can provide is greatly appreciated.

Hospice originated in the US in the 1970’s and was operated solely by volunteers. Hospice is now a fully reimbursable Medicare benefit. Any Hospice that is Medicare certified must meet the Medicare standards or “CoP (Conditions of Participation)” with an established volunteer program that trains volunteers, utilizes volunteers in administrative and/or direct patient care roles, recruits and retains volunteers and provides cost savings reports to document the cost that hospice would have incurred from paid employees providing these services.

Volunteer services must equal a minimum of 5% of total direct patient care hours and the hospice must document volunteer activities and hours to show they are meeting the required percentage.

Compassionate Care Hospice’s volunteer training program is on-going and customized to fit the schedule of the prospective volunteer. Training can be done on an individual basis or in small groups. Volunteers must complete an application and are carefully screened the same way an employee would be.

The Volunteer Coordinators appreciate any talent a volunteer can bring to the organization. Volunteer Coordinators build upon a volunteer’s strengths and talents and place them with an appropriate patient or family. Volunteer services can include but are not limited to pet therapy, music therapy, massage therapy and reiki therapy.

Compassionate Care Hospice also has Bereavement Care Volunteers to provide phone calls, companionship visits, a listening ear and emotional support to bereaved individuals. Bereavement Volunteers will receive special grief training in addition to the standard volunteer orientation.

People volunteer for different reasons. They like to give back to their communities, fulfill a desire, further their education, express gratitude or give back to an organization they personally benefited from in the past. Volunteering is also a wonderful way to make a difference in the lives of others. Pet therapy volunteer, Barbara Noll, describes her first hospice visit with her dog, Hunter, “As a Therapy Dog, Hunter is trained to never get on a patients bed. While visiting a patient whose bed was very low to the ground, I began telling her about Hunter. Before I could stop him, he was on the bed laying across her legs. I was embarrassed and apologized-but, the patient started smiling and laughing. Hunter then began to lick her cheek and settle down beside her. I was dumfounded but didn’t want to ruin the moment as the patient then brushed Hunters fur. Hunter and that patient had a very special bond that only they knew.”

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer with Compassionate Care Hospice, please call your local Volunteer Coordinator at our office closest to your location, or apply online.