A Spotlight on Homeland Hospice Volunteers


homeland volunteer and cat lover kathy louisIn every aspect of its work, Homeland Hospice brings a team approach to care. Volunteers are an essential part of this group. Through their unique talents and open hearts, Homeland Hospice volunteers bring friendship and kindness to patients during their end-of-life journey and comfort to families who have lost loved ones. Homeland is grateful to all of its volunteers and recognizes their extraordinary efforts.

Last November, Kathy Louis of Tower City became a hospice volunteer through VolunteerMatch, an online service that connects individuals with causes and organizations. Kathy loves working with people and has past experiences working with elderly individuals, making Homeland a perfect fit for her interests. Homeland Hospice is a nonprofit hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

For the past several months, Kathy has visited a gentleman in his early 90s. The two quickly sparked up a friendship through their shared love of animals. Kathy helps rescue cats and brought several along for visits. Many of the cats enjoyed crawling on the man’s lap, allowing him to pet them. Kathy’s client often forgets her name, but never forgets the name of the cats.

“He calls me the cat lady,” Kathy says. “I’m pleased the cats have brought him so much joy.”

In addition to the feline visits, Kathy learned her client once owned a garage. She found a book focusing on old gas stations in the region and shared it with him. The book brought back fond memories for the gentleman who recognized many of the images in the book.

“We love talking about old times,” Kathy adds. “I enjoy hearing about his experiences.”

Recently, Kathy’s client entered a nursing facility to recuperate from a fall. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, Kathy hopes to visit him in the nursing home to reconnect on a regular basis.

For many hospice patients, a visit from a volunteer is like a visit from a friend. Doctors, nurses and aids must ask their patients about their health and medications, but a volunteer just listens without any expectations or requests. Illness can be isolating and volunteers provide much-needed personal connections.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurie Murry, volunteer coordinator for Homeland Hospice, has found creative ways to connect volunteers with patients. Last year, Laurie created a card campaign through VolunteerMatch. People were asked to create cards and write uplifting messages to hospice patients. To date, thousands of cards have been sent from across the country.

In addition to the card campaign, volunteers have submitted personal art creations, which will be framed and shared with patients to brighten up their living space.

“From personal time with a patient to a friendly note, every act of caring helps patients feel important,” Laurie adds. “I’m humbled by the compassion of our volunteers.”

For more information about Homeland Hospice and volunteer opportunities, call (717) 221-7890.

Qualities a Caregiver Should Possess


By Barbara Goll, BS, Community Education Liaison/Nutritionist

Caregiver in a medical mask with a senior woman

Whether you are looking for full-time care, part-time care or occasional respite care, choosing someone to look after your loved one is a stressful process.

It goes without saying that you want someone who can manage the details of the job — like cooking, cleaning, and keeping medications organized. But caregiving is so much more than a list of household and helpful tasks. It’s also an important interpersonal role that demands many developed personality traits.

Locating that special caregiver who possesses the qualities that would be best to care for your loved one can take some effort. A valuable caregiver will have the necessary training, along with the ability to earn the respect of your loved one being cared for.

A quality caregiver is:

  • Able to manage situations assertively and take directions gracefully
  • Reliable and trustworthy
  • Emotionally stable with even temperament
  • A problem-solver who comes up with timely solutions
  • Flexible and able to adjust to meet the needs and wishes of the client
  • A good communicator who communicates verbally and non-verbally in a clear and simple manor, exhibiting care and interest in the client
  • Professional at all times and focused on the needs of the client
  • In good health and is physically able to perform work involved
  • Is passionate about their job and providing the best quality of life for clients with dignity and respect, helping them to live each day as fully as possible
  • Radiates happiness, optimism and joy
  • Able to maintain a sense of humor through challenging times
  • Patient during times of frustration, stress and anger
  • Calm and reassuring in both tone and actions
  • Empathetic and able to consider a client’s perspective as independence declines
  • Creative in helping clients feel self-worth and emotional well-being
  • Able to stay composed during all types of tasks, offering a gift of dignity clients

A caregiver will leave a lasting impact on the client as well as the family members. Take the time to find the quality caregiver your loved one deserves.

As Maya Angelou put it, “At the end of the day, I’ve learned that people may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”