Hospice of Washington County has been helping community members for more than 30 years and is seeking volunteers to help continue the mission.
Office director and volunteer coordinator, Mary Maxted, said the nonprofit relies on volunteers and provides multiple opportunities and flexible scheduling to accommodate.
“We actually have three different ways volunteers can help,” she said. “One is that they can do direct patient-family contact.”
She explained that hospice employs nurses to take care of the medical side of the work but volunteers can help with mental, social and emotional support.
“A lot of times we tailor what the volunteer does to what the family’s request is,” she explained. “We might have had someone ask for a couple hours’ time off because they have a doctor’s appointment or just need to take a nap, and we would have a volunteer go in and provide respite time. They could be there to visit, they could be there just to be at the bedside (or) just to give the caregiver time off.”
She said companionship visits like these are common in the nursing home setting as many people just request someone to talk to or simply sit with them for a while.
“If we have a patient who’s sitting there lonely, a volunteer can brighten their day and talk about the past or just pass the time of day,” she said.
Another way volunteers can help is directly in the clinic by answering phones, filing or helping with other operations. Fundraising is another way volunteers can help because hospice holds about 10 events a year.
She said no matter which way the volunteer is helping, the positive feedback she always receives from volunteers stems from their feeling as if they have made a positive impact.
“They feel like what they get back is more than what they actually gave,” she said.
Patients and families also are receptive and appreciative for volunteers because it grants them a reprieve from the stress of having a loved one in hospice care.
“The hospice goal is just to help provide comfort and dignity for end of life,” she said. “The volunteers are just part of that all-inclusive service we provide.”
Maxted said the average timeline someone is on hospice is about 60 days. During that time, volunteers are able to help provide care and help provide a focus of positivity by creating a friendly environment for the patient.
To be a hospice volunteer, those interested must attend a class or complete a self-study. During this training, volunteers will be taught how to handle situations that may arise and make them comfortable and confident to be able to help workers.
“I always say they give the gift of themselves,” she said of volunteers. “They give up their time.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer with hospice may contact Mary Maxted at the main office at: 319-653-7321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.