There are three types of caregivers typically involved in a person’s journey with a life-limiting illness; familial, professional and volunteer.
Hospice care, in our province, utilizes more volunteer hours than any other sector of volunteerism. Quality care, at no charge, would never be possible if it were not for volunteers.
Volunteering takes a very special kind of individual. It takes someone whose primary mission in life is to help or to be of service. Many people, when they first consider the idea of hospice volunteerism, assume the characteristics are much more unique.
Volunteering in hospice care does not take a unique individual but it does require a unique mindset. And that mindset in best summed up with one word…acceptance.
Hospice Volunteers learn that helping is accepting. We must accept the fact that nothing we can do will change the prognosis of those we support. But we can shift the focus away from the illness and onto quality of life. The role of a hospice volunteer is to provide compassionate and non-judgemental support. It is to listen and empathize. It is to help those we have the honor of supporting to live fully present, in a way that reflects where they are on their journey.
Non-Palliative Professional Care Givers can also find themselves supporting someone, especially in the final stages of their journey. Those working in a retirement residence, nursing home or even a hospital or medical environment may feel uneasy and unqualified to “answer the tough questions” or evaluate if what they are saying is hurting or helping. The number one fear that comes up in every training class is “what if I say the wrong thing?”
And that one question is the single most important reason why East Haldimand Hospice runs regular training programs for any individual, in a volunteer or professional caregiving role, who is bridging into palliative care. We encourage anyone who is thinking hospice care, may be their “calling”, to attend our training program.