Volunteers are the heart of Meadowlark Hospice. The love, respect and care our hospice volunteers provide is vitally important to their overall well-being during challenging times. With the use of trained volunteers, the terminally ill and their families have an alternative to institutionalized care. Hospice volunteers find their Work to be personally gratifying, intellectually stimulating and emotionally meaningful. The hospice philosophy of focusing on living is supported by volunteers as they add another dimension to the realm of care for the terminally ill.
Direct Care Volunteers
Direct Care Volunteers work in conjunction with and as a part of the Hospice team to provide psychosocial, physical and spiritual support to the hospice patient and their family. Direct care volunteers provide support for patients and family members by writing letters, making a phone call, being a listener, holding a hand, giving a hug, life review, baking a cake, playing a game, assisting with simple household chores or personal grooming, or changing a life (maybe their own).
Indirect Care Volunteers
Indirect Care Volunteers also work as a part of the Hospice team, but do the services which do not involve regular personal contact with patients and their families. Their duties may include, but are not limited to office copy work, thank you notes, compilation and mailing of newsletters, helping with the organization of the Tree of Light ceremonies, assisting with bereavement support programs, donating refreshments and sending cards.
Meadowlark Hospice Volunteers must complete a volunteer orientation and training session. In addition to training, ongoing support is available for volunteers through monthly in-service meetings in each county, support groups, library resources and individual counseling as needed and desired.
Becoming a Volunteer
To find out more about Meadowlark Hospice's Volunteer Program, contact our Volunteer Coordinator at (785) 632-2225 or stop by our office at 709 Liberty Street in Clay Center.
Character of a Good Hospice Volunteer
Be Genuine, Compassionate, Sharing, Outgoing, Personable, Encouraging, and Loving Be yourself.
Aside from modifications in behavior to assure the comfort of the patient, i.e., quietness, less talking and more listening, conscious attentiveness, etc., the volunteer should relate with the same "personality" he displays in any other situation. People who are ill appreciate being treated naturally, and in this way are reassured that their illness has not set them apart any more that in the obvious ways. Relate to the patient, not the illness. This holds true for family members as well. The volunteer role is that of friend and supporter, not expert or authority. You are not expected to know all the answers.
Be Available, Dependable, Honest, Responsible, Helpful, Loyal, and Trustworthy.
To people in crisis, whose lives are subject to so much unpredictability, it is essential to know that they can count on someone or something. Never offer more than you know you can deliver. The life of a seriously ill person has little variety and few distractions and therefore each outside contact assumes larger than usual proportions and importance. What may be a minor part of your week may be the single event that the patient has been eagerly awaiting for days. It also serves as an opportunity for the primary caregiver to have some much-needed private time away from the responsibilities of patient care.
Be Motivated, Cooperative, and take the Initiative.
At the onset of a relationship the family will usually look to the volunteer to set the pattern of interaction. Regular phone calls and brief visits to see how things are going are usually appreciated and serve to break the ice.
Be Accepting, Positive, Happy, Tactful, Friendly, Patient, Spiritual, and Prayerful.
Family coping patterns have been formed over years of association, and are rooted in history of which you are not a part. Your responsibility is to work as helpfully and harmoniously as possible within the given structure, not to try and change it.
It is important to remember that the function as a volunteer is to first meet the needs of your patient/family, rather than your own. In most instances this means listening more than talking. It may mean listening to the same stories over and over again - stories that for whatever reason, satisfy a need of the patient/family.
References to the patient/family by name should be confined to contact with the Hospice team, either individually or at meetings.
Communicate with the Primary Nurse.
The importance of clear communication between nurses and volunteers cannot be overemphasized. The two of you are a mini-team. This role definition comes about most easily when the volunteer feels comfortable from the beginning just being himself/herself.
Communicate with the Patient and Family.
It is the responsibility of the volunteer to state clearly to the patient and family what you can and cannot offer in terms of time and availability. This will prevent awkward and possibly painful misunderstandings.