April is National Volunteer Month, and we want to honor and recognize the amazing work our volunteers do for Hospice of the Northwest.
For starters, last year our volunteers provided over 1,000 visits. They make over 1,000 phone calls to patients and their caregivers each quarter, and over 50% of our patients have received some type of volunteer services. This has saved Hospice of the Northwest over $160,000 in labor costs!
Something else noteworthy is that Medicare requires at least 5% of a hospice’s patient care hours be provided by volunteers. Well, our dedicated volunteers provided 12% of hours in 2022!
What do the hospice volunteers do?
Here are just some of the many areas where our volunteers serve:
Animal-assisted activities: HNW utilizes third-party therapy animal teams to visit our patients. These visits can be an immense source of joy and comfort for patients. Currently, they include a llama, a miniature horse, and some dogs. Our volunteers join the team on their visits.
Companionship: Some patients have a greater need for socialization. These volunteers spend time with patients doing the things they enjoy such as putting a jigsaw puzzle together, playing recorded music, reading aloud, playing cards, etc.
Pet Peace of Mind: When a patient has a pet in their home, they may need extra help taking the dog for a walk, changing the litter box, taking the pet to a groomer, and similar tasks. We have volunteers who are happy to assist. If needed, they will also help write a rehoming agreement, so the patient knows their beloved pet will be taken care of after their death.
Respite: When a caregiver needs to get out of the house to run errands, go to an appointment, take a break, and so on, these volunteers will spend two to four hours a week with a patient so their caregiver can have peace of mind while they are away.
Tuck-in calls: These volunteers call the homes of our patients on a weekly basis to make sure they have enough medication, supplies, and equipment to get through the coming weekend. They also check in to see if they need to speak to a member of their care team.
Veteran engagement: HNW is an active partner in the We Honor Veterans program. Volunteers who are also military Veterans work to recognize our patients who are Veterans.
Vigil: When a patient is presumed to be in their last 24-48 hours of life, this wonderful team provides bedside presence for patients who perhaps do not have a circle of support who can be with them, or to relieve the family so they can catch up on some much-needed rest.
Please join us in giving our volunteers a heartfelt thank you!