Ask any of our patients, and they’ll likely tell you the volunteers who visit them touch their hearts. They look forward to the visits and the compassionate care volunteers bring.
If you have a passion for caring for others and are looking for a way to make a difference in people’s lives, consider becoming a hospice care volunteer. Our volunteers are an important part of our hospice team, helping improve the quality of life for our patients, their families and their caregivers.
What Does a Hospice Volunteer Do?
The activities you will do as an Amedisys hospice volunteer may be many and varied. From reading at a patient’s bedside and knitting lap blankets, to providing pet therapy or helping with administrative duties - there's a wide range of possibilities. Common volunteer activities often include:
- Activities with patients, like reading and writing letters, light housekeeping, playing games, participating in pet therapy, scrapbooking or other crafts – or simply being a loving and supportive presence for companionship, offering a hand to hold to lending a listening ear.
- Helping with household activities like arranging flowers, walking pets or other tasks to help keep things running smoothly.
- Providing emotional support for the patient – and the family (before and after death) – such as providing breaks for family and friend caregivers, making spiritual prayer calls, attending funerals and memorial services and offering companionship to loved ones.
- Offering administrative support by helping answer phone calls at a local office, connecting with patients and caregivers via regular check-in calls and other clerical duties.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Hospice Volunteer?
Being a hospice volunteer is a very rewarding opportunity. You're able to create special relationships with hospice patients based on mutual respect, understanding and care. Through this opportunity, you can:
- Make a difference in hospice patients and their family's lives.
- Develop a wide network.
- Develop a range of skills and experience that can be used in everyday life.
- Receive ongoing education and development.
How Can You Help Hospice Patients?
No matter what type of volunteer work you provide, each hospice volunteer or team member works to make our patients' lives easier and brighter at the end of life.
Direct Care Volunteers
Direct care volunteers provide companionship, socialization and caregiver relief so the patient and their loved ones feel supported and reassured during this difficult time. Volunteers act as a calming presence, active listener and a helping hand.
Hospice vigil volunteers provide presence and comfort at the bedside of actively dying patients in the final days of life. This support can be provided to patients with no available caregivers or loved ones, or to provide reassurance to present loved ones. They can play soft music, encourage the family to talk about shared memories and watch for signs of pain to alert the hospice nurse.
Amedisys is proud to offer the We Honor Veterans program in nearly all locations, providing veterans with specialized support at the end of life based on their unique needs. When available, Amedisys pairs veteran volunteers with veteran patients as they have the distinct ability to relate and connect, creating a safe environment where life review and healing can occur.
Bereavement volunteers support bereaved individuals through phone calls, in-person visits, sending monthly mailings and more.
These volunteers support care center office staff with day-to-day office responsibilities like answering phones, filing, data entry and more.
Sometimes, hospice patients may benefit from additional services outside the normal scope of hospice care. We welcome professionals like massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, pet therapy teams, hairdressers and more to volunteer their services to hospice patients.
Indirect volunteers do not interact with hospice patients, but provide education to the community by presenting at health fairs, making blankets or scarves, helping with celebrations and more.
What to Say as a Hospice Volunteer?
Effective communication is crucial to providing supportive and compassionate care to hospice patients, particularly those with dementia. It's important to approach each patient with patience, empathy and respect. Always introduce yourself and address the patient by their preferred name, using a calm and reassuring tone.
Focus on the present moment and use clear and concise language when working with dementia patients. Ask open-ended, simple questions to promote easy engagement while staying attentive to non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language to gauge the patient's comfort level and understanding.
Sometimes, being an active listener can be more impactful than what you say. Allow them to express themselves, validate their feelings and experiences and demonstrate empathy and understanding.
Flexibility is a key attribute for hospice volunteers to adapt to the evolving needs of the patient. Recognize any changes in mood or health status and adjust accordingly so you can build a trusting and supportive relationship to enhance their quality of life and experience.
Hospice Volunteer Training
Becoming a Hospice Volunteer can feel like a big step, and we’re here to help. That’s why we support all our volunteers with an orientation and training program that helps you know what to do. You’ll learn:
- How the hospice care team works, and your role in it
- Helpful hints for being a successful volunteer
- The psychological, social and spiritual needs of hospice patients
- How to provide grief and bereavement support
- Communication skills and managing stress
- Patient privacy and other regulations
Who Can Be a Hospice Volunteer?
It’s our philosophy that Hospice Volunteers are part of our caregiver team. To maintain quality care for our patients and families, we have a few requirements of our hospice volunteers such as a background check, references, a statement of health and a commitment to serve for 1-4 hours a week for six months. We do require that our volunteers be aged 16 and older and 18 and older to interact directly with patients.
There are also key qualities that a hospice volunteer should exhibit. These include:
- Good listening skills
- An understanding and acceptance of their own feelings regarding death and dying
- A strong comfort level with people approaching death
- Willingness to serve patients and their families or behind the scenes work.
How to Become a Hospice Volunteer
You can access our Amedisys Volunteer Portal to discover opportunities for hospice volunteer work near you and apply for available positions. You can also email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions or guidance.
Our team will provide all required trainings to equip you with all the right tools and resources to bring joy and comfort to hospice patients and their families in your community.