By Laurie Murry, Homeland Hospice Volunteer Coordinator
Homeland Hospice has a patient who complains about the facility meals, her roommate, the temperature of her room, those who are caring for her, and more–a difficult person to please. But she enjoys playing cards, so we arranged for a volunteer to visit and play cards with her. Once a week, for an hour or so, this patient is a different person–pleasant, and engaging, whether she wins the card games or not.
Another patient 95-years old has resided at a skilled nursing facility for many years. She is alert and oriented, but blind, and stays in bed with her eyes closed because light bothers her. She is not able to be a part of activities, community dining, or other social interactions with residents. Kneeling at the side of her bed (so she could be heard) our volunteer listens as she shares stories from her childhood, one about a tragic train accident that happened in her community while she was young. The volunteer learned this patient has a strong Christian faith and knows music can have a soothing and uplifting affect. She plays classic hymns from her cell phone while our patient smiles and comfortably falls asleep.
Residing at home with her daughter due to her illness, a third patient becomes short of breath easily, restricting her movement. On a beautiful March day, the sun shines brightly and temperatures are in the mid-’50s, but our patient is unable to get outside. Her volunteer decides to bring the outdoors in and helps her plant a flower from the comfort of her armchair.
Homeland Hospice volunteers meet people where they are and value them for who they are … it’s not about wanting people to be a certain way. Serving is about appreciating the great moments that can be found by helping to create small moments–sitting quietly with a person who may be sound asleep, holding someone’s hand, reading a short story, or taking a patient “out of their room” or situation through conversation or a ride in their wheelchair. By giving without the expectation of receiving … and weaving compassion, heart, kindness, and vulnerability into our lives, we get to serve others, and leave our fingerprints on the world.
There are many ways you can volunteer and serve along-side our staff. Directly being involved with patients can occur through companionship, staying with a patient while a family member runs errands, sitting bedside during the last hours of a patient’s life, or driving a patient to an appointment. You can involve a trained and certified pet in your visits … patients love to see animals! Volunteers can also share time with a bereaved family member after a patient has passed away offering friendship and support during the grieving process. If your skills lie more in the administrative arena, assisting us in the office to help “tame” the mountains of paperwork and mailings is always appreciated. Should you have a special skill that you would like to share, such as nail care, cutting hair, yard work, dog grooming, cooking, etc., let us know and we’ll discuss ways it may be added to improving our patients’ quality of life.
Homeland volunteers receive an initial orientation, that can be done in the comfort of your home, at your own pace, as a self-study. On-going training, support and guidance is provided, as well as, opportunities to meet and fellowship with other volunteers on the team. As a Homeland volunteer, you can pick your own schedule, serving once a month or a couple of times a week, and in the location of your choosing, such as near your home or workplace.
We would love to have you as part of our volunteer team! For more information on how you might become involved, contact Laurie Murry, Volunteer Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-409-8882.