What Is a Hospice Volunteer?

How Hospice Volunteers Offer Necessary Support

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Hospice volunteers are unpaid workers who have donated their time and resources to support hospice patients, caregivers, and staff. Hospice agencies receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding have to prove that at least 5% of hospice work is being done by volunteers in order to be paid. 

The Importance of Hospice Volunteers 

Hospice volunteers are an essential part of a well-run hospice program. Hospice volunteers may do a number of important tasks that range from assisting in office work to visiting at a dying patient's bedside.

Their responsibilities can also include administrative work, social visits, caregiver relief, therapy, and more. 

Because a hospice agency needs many volunteers to succeed, there are plenty of jobs for volunteers to do that utilize an individual's talents and skills.

The Many Jobs of a Hospice Volunteer

Some services a hospice agency can offer are based solely on the types of people they have volunteering and their personal talents and skill sets. For example, a hospice agency that has certified massage therapists and beauticians volunteering will be able to offer those services to their patients whereas an agency without these types of volunteers would not be able to offer such services to their patients. Thus, what is offered at a hospice agency typically varies on a case-by-case basis. 

Below is a list of just some of the many potential jobs a hospice volunteer may perform:

  • Administrative work: making photocopies, filing paperwork, assembling admission packets, etc.
  • Social visits: visiting patients at their place of residence to offer them companionship and support.
  • Caregiver relief: assuming care of a patient for a couple of hours to allow the caregiver time for a break.
  • Massage therapy: certified massage therapists may offer various types of massage to patients. Some agencies also sponsor staff appreciation days with free mini-massages for hospice staff.
  • Reiki therapy: reiki practitioners apply principles of natural healing in the form of energy transfer. This type of therapy is gaining popularity in the ​palliative care population.
  • Beautician or barber services: licensed beauticians and barbers may donate their services to patients in the patient's home setting. This is an especially helpful service for patients who cannot make it to a salon or barber shop. 
  • Aromatherapy: trained aromatherapists use scents to aid in relaxation and pain relief. Some hospice agencies offer aromatherapy training for their volunteers.
  • Pet companions: Pets that are trained and certified companions can be taken to patients homes, nursing facilities, or inpatient hospice facilities to provide companionship and pure pleasure to hospice patients.

There may be other duties for hospice volunteers, depending on the agency's needs, the skills of hospice volunteers, and the needs of patients and families. No matter what skills you possess, a good hospice agency will find some way to use them.

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