Hospice Volunteers Needed

August 30, 2013

Pay it forward [Pay it fawr-werd] adverb. 1) encouraging grace or goodwill to others before it’s due; 2) suggests compassion for others in advance, not in return.

Folks sometimes hear the calling to volunteer because they have been the recipient of an agency, organization or just the good will from a helping hand. With hospice volunteers, the calling is different: it’s a deep compassion for the miracle of life, the journey through life, and helping family members to find peace thereafter that drives their desire to devote themselves to the cause.

“We have a tremendous need for hospice volunteers,” explained LaShawn Miller, Mercy Hospice social worker and volunteer coordinator.

Caring for a loved one or friend with a terminal illness is all consuming, requiring physical, emotional and spiritual strength. But the benefits of providing comfort and peace for someone near the end of life far outweigh temporary obstacles.

Hospice volunteers give the gift of time. Often it’s time to listen to the patient tell a story or do a craft. In other cases it may be respite care for the primary caregiver to tend to obligations or just rejuvenate. Regardless of how the volunteer’s time is spent, it’s always valuable.

Mercy Hospice treats the whole person, not the disease. Hospice services are coordinated through a caring team which includes the patient’s doctor, hospice medical director, registered nurses, social workers and chaplains. But no team is complete without the support cast to carry out these efforts. Hospice volunteers are vital to the circle of care which surrounds terminally ill patients.

“The care team, or network of caregivers, can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life,” Miller added. “Studies show that some patients who get hospice care live longer than those who don’t. In many cases that allows patients and families time to bond, mend, prepare and grieve as a unit.”

Mercy Hospice will host a mandatory volunteer training session on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the McAuley Conference Center at Mercy Hospital.

“The calling for a hospice volunteers is deeply rooted. The sum of it is dignity, respect and cherishing a life.”

Not only does the calling run deep for these volunteers, but their conviction must too. Volunteers must be a minimum of 18 years old, complete an application and screening process, pass a background check, and meet other criteria that make them a good fit for their role.

Volunteers do not need a medical background or experience as a hospice volunteer, but must possess qualities that would bring peace and comfort to Mercy’s Hospice patients.

“The volunteer training is worthwhile for the individual as it helps you to be a more compassionate, understanding person” said Margaret “Peggy” Stevens, Mercy Hospice volunteer graduate. “The information presented by our instructor is informative and comfortable. You will be able to use all of the information in your own family circumstances.”

Interested in being a hospice volunteer? Apply online at www.mercy.net/hospice-application-fortscott.

For more information about being a hospice volunteer, contact LaShawn Miller at 620-223-8532.

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