According to the Home Care & Hospice Association, the organization — which numbers some 3,000 volunteers — tends to 40,000 terminally ill New Jerseyans annually. And those volunteers have a broad range of training options open to them, from bereavement to pet therapy to Hindu and Buddhist approaches to the end of life, said Chrissy Buteas, president and CEO of the association.
“The volunteer in hospice is so important,” Buteas said, “that hospice is the only Medicare benefit which requires use of volunteers.”
Hospice is provided wherever the patient lives — in private homes, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, hospice houses, hospitals, and elsewhere. Volunteers support caregiving in many ways, Buteas noted, including running errands for families, doing simple chores around the house, providing companionship for patients, and giving families a break from their caregiving. Some volunteers assist in the hospice office as well, particularly with clerical matters and patient records.
At a recent full-day training conference, volunteers could choose from a wide range of workshops. Among the topics covered were “Dementia: What It Is and What It Is Not,” “Good Grief,” “Heartfulness Meditation,” “Laughter in the Hospice Setting – Seriously,” “Memoir Writing,” “Music Therapy as a Healing Modality,” “Tell Me Your Story – the Importance of Narrative Work in Hospice Care,” “Guilt: The Gift That Keeps on Giving,” “How Do Therapy Dogs Help in Hospice Care?,” “Sun in the Heart: New Pages from a Hospice Volunteer’s Notebook,” “Volunteering at the 11th Hour,” “Working with the Minimally Responsive or Non-Communicative Patient,” “Creating Moments of Joy in Moderate and Late Stage Alzheimer’s Disease,” “Poetry & the Practice of Listening,” and “Staying Whole in the Midst of Brokenness.”
to learn more about volunteering for hospice.