Due to WA State Health Department regulations, Patient/Family Volunteers MAY NOT provide personal or medical care, dispense medications, transport, lift or transfer patients, assist with walking or toileting, or pick up individuals who have fallen. Volunteers MAY NOT visit families or caregivers after the patient has died.
In this role, the volunteer offers support and companionship to dying patients and their families or caregivers. Volunteers serve as friendly visitors and can provide respite care while loved ones leave the home to shop or run errands. They listen to stories, share experiences, read aloud, play cards, watch movies, help with letter writing, record memories, assist with chores and more. Volunteers find this work to be truly meaningful. Companionship visits are generally 1-2 hours weekly; respite visits are usually 3-4 hours weekly.
The volunteer in this position makes weekly phone calls to ensure that patients living in private residences are comfortable and have sufficient medications, equipment, and supplies to last through the upcoming weekend. Calls are made Thursday mornings between 9-11 a.m. which gives hospice staff time to make sure issues are resolved before the weekend. This is a weekly commitment, although substitutes are needed periodically.
Vigil volunteers will sit with patients during the last 24 – 48 hours of life to provide comfort, reassurance, and solace. They also offer support to families and caregivers. Sitting at the bedside or being in the home of a dying patient is a very private and intimate time. Vigil volunteers are privileged to be invited to share in this experience. Vigil volunteers complete patient/family volunteer training and an additional vigil training. They complete a 3 – 4 hour shift (as available) one or more times during vigils. Vigil activities may include gentle touch, lighting candles, playing soft music, sharing comforting words, or sitting in silence.
The volunteers in this role have a simple, elegant and effective approach. They are trained to set up personalized music playlists, delivered on iPods and other digital devices, for those in their care. These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring participants back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize, and stay present. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please check out the “ALIVE INSIDE” DVD from our Resource Library. (Music and Memory®)
Volunteers maintain the Resource Library in our lobby. This library contains over 1200 books and DVDs about death, dying, grief, and spirituality. These volunteers come in weekly for about 2 hours to catalog and maintain the inventory of the library. To view our online library visit: Hospice of the Northwest Resource Library.
This online version of our library is graciously set up by the City of Burlington Public Library.
In this position, the volunteers provide follow-up phone calls to individuals discharged from hospice services, and to those individuals not taken for care (due to not meeting eligibility requirements). The volunteers ask questions to determine whether a patient now meets admission criteria and might want to reconsider hospice admission. Coordination and communication with the Referral Center staff is part of this role.
Volunteers who are veterans are preferred for this position. The volunteers in this role will spearhead efforts to recognize hospice patients who are veterans, and will keep current with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s We Honor Veterans Program. If available to provide companionship, these volunteers accept the assignments of patients who are veterans.
These volunteers coordinate with licensed therapy animal and handler teams who provide comforting visits to patients. Each team is trained and evaluated to ensure patient and animal safety. Positive human-animal interactions have been shown to improve the physical, emotional, and psychological lives of those served. It has been demonstrated that therapy animal visits can lower blood pressure, anxiety, and stress levels. In addition, these visits can stimulate the release of endorphins and create feelings of well-being.
Hospice of the Northwest was accepted into the Pet Peace of Mind® national program in fall of 2018. The volunteers in this program are trained to go into patients’ homes and care for, play with, and potentially walk dogs and cats. In addition, volunteers will assist patients in writing the re-homing agreement for their animal(s).
Clerical and office volunteers may assist with typing, data entry, photocopying, scanning, assembling booklets, medical records filing, mailings, and special projects. They serve weekly, monthly, or as needed. They are also helpful in assembling patient admit packets, informational visit packets, and outreach materials.
Hospice volunteers sew butterfly pillows, busy mats, and lap blankets for patients. This can be done at home at the convenience of the volunteer. Fabric and notions are provided. Volunteers can also sew hospital gowns and catheter bag covers for patients: Click here for patterns!
These volunteers utilize compassionate listening skills while making condolence and anniversary phone calls to loved ones. In addition, they can prepare bereavement packets, write condolence cards, and help with support group facilitation.
Phone: (360) 814-5588