Hospice volunteers support both patients and caregivers
Nationwide, volunteers serve as the heartbeat of hospice. In addition to being overseen by healthcare professionals, people on hospice are loved and partly cared for by trained volunteers who want to give the gift of presence. It’s not an occupation, but a calling.
At Cascade Hospice, volunteers offer kind attention at the end of life, and establish supportive relationships with family members during an important and challenging time when a cure is not possible.
Some trained volunteers use therapeutic touch. Others visit with licensed pet partners. And some serve as office help, lightening the load for caregivers and administrators. Most volunteers, however, provide companionship by lending a hand to patients or offering respite to family and caregivers.
In the last two days of a patient’s life, a group of volunteers holds vigil day and night to help sustain patients and families. These actions speak louder than any words.
Later this year, Cascade Health Solutions’ Transitions program will allow volunteers to assist families when a loved one is nearing death, but is not yet on hospice care. At Cascade’s future hospice house, volunteers will be at the side of dying patients, especially those without family members.
Long-time volunteer and former hospice volunteer coordinator Susan Isaacs recalls meeting a 21-year-old, single parent whose mother was dying.
“This distraught young woman didn’t know what to do,” Susan remembers.
So Susan energetically worked to establish our Cascade Hospice Vigil Program, arranging for volunteers to accompany patients and their families around the clock during the final days life. The vigil program, like all of our volunteer services, is thriving thanks to the ongoing generosity of community members.
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