Time. . . to Help Others

Uploaded by hfahospice on 28.01.2011

Hello. I'm Frank Sesno in Washington for the Hospice Foundation of America
and I want you to meet some very important people.
Hi – I’m Elaine Kurczewski and I’m a hospice volunteer in
Chicago, Illinois.  
Hi – I’m Daniel Lee – everyone calls me Juno - and I’m a hospice volunteer
in Clearwater, Florida.
Hi – I’m Gail Cherochak and I’m a hospice volunteer
in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Hi – I’m Alex Silva,
and I manage hospice volunteers in San Diego, California.
Those four individuals are part of a growing number of people
all across America --- more than 63 million strong --- who make
sure they find… “Time – to help others.”
Remember back in history class, we learned that our nation
was born of volunteers?
General George Washington led the original Continental Army
that was comprised of colonialists who volunteered to
fight in the Revolutionary War.
And so began a tradition of volunteering –
that continues today.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service –
a federal agency that compiles data and tracks trends in
volunteering --- the tens of millions of Americans who
volunteer each year generally do so to raise funds or help
provide various services.
Today –we’ll learn about one very special kind of volunteer
opportunity - for hospice.
You know, when we’re with friends at social events and
they ask about hospice and what I do – their reaction is strange
and negative and they’re concerned about me being
depressed and about it being depressing and upsetting and
they just don’t know what hospice is.
Well, before we talk about all that hospice IS …
let me tell you what hospice ISN’T:
Hospice isn’t a place where people go to die.
 Actually, hospice is about living.
Hospice is medical care that focuses on quality of life – by
managing the physical pain and symptoms of the patient… and the
emotional – and often spiritual pain - of the patient and his or
her loved ones.
The goal of hospice care is for people with a life-limiting
illness to spend their last months at home if they choose,
among loved ones, as comfortable as possible.
Hospice is unique in health care today because the care comes to
the patient – wherever he or she resides,
including private homes and apartments,
assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Sometimes, hospice services begin while the patient is
waiting to be discharged from the hospital.
The modern-day hospice movement came to the United States in the
early 1970s.
 The first hospice established in the U.S.
is in Connecticut.
It was founded by volunteers – as were most of the hospice
programs that followed.
Today – there are about five thousand hospice programs
around the United States.
Most are community-based nonprofits.
 Some are for-profit businesses.
Either way, one thing the vast majority of hospice programs
have in common is that they receive funds from Medicare –
the federal health insurance program.
 In fact, Medicare is the main source of revenue for many
But – in order to receive funds from Medicare,
a hospice must do certain things – one of which is to utilize
volunteers at least some of the time.
As a teen volunteer, I basically go to a patient’s home,
um, either for just talking or celebrating a birthday party for
them because everyone loves a birthday party and a lot of the
patients tell me that it’s their first birthday party.
Lots of times I just go there, talk,
see how they are and I just hear the most exciting
life stories because these people have lived a long time
and they kind of impart their knowledge on what they’ve seen
throughout their whole life, to me.
It’s fun for me and it’s probably very relieving for them
to kinda have someone different to talk to.
Volunteers may also help by running errands,
driving the patient to and from appointments,
pretty much anything that will make the patient more
comfortable and lighten the load on the care giver.
But not all hospice volunteers are directly involved
in patient care.
Some volunteers do crafts – like sewing a memory bear from the
clothing of a family’s loved one - that is then given to the
Or they volunteer at a hospice’s Thrift Shop which sells things
like furniture or clothing
that have been donated in good condition.
As a volunteer for my hospice, I work primarily on maintaining
the website, getting out new information about events,
I work with the marketing people who are designing brochures to
make sure the information is consistent and that we’re
getting out a really great message to the public and that
we are presenting a really good image to our clients who might
want to use our services.
Hospices often are on the lookout for people with special
skills and training, like notaries,
beauticians and barbers, massage therapists,
handlers of therapy animals, …and providers of complementary
or alternative therapies like healing touch,
aroma therapy and music therapy.
And hospice grief camps for children – many of which are
offered at no cost to the participants -
rely on volunteers.
In fact, many hospices use volunteers to check in with
loved ones by telephone periodically for about a year
following a patient’s death.
Many hospices also provide students with an opportunity to
fulfill community service requirements.
Student social workers, nurses and other aspiring professionals
often volunteer to get a feel for the end-of-life care part of
the health care continuum.
Thank you so much for coming in.
Please, have a seat.
When someone lets us know that they’re considering becoming a
hospice volunteer, the first thing I do is thank them.
 People have so much on their plates these days that we are
really thankful when they choose hospice as a way to spend some
of their precious leisure time.
When someone is considering becoming a hospice volunteer,
often they ask: What will my time commitment be?
What happens once I’ve applied to be a volunteer?
Will I be trained?
What happens if this turns out to be harder than I thought?
While we can’t answer for every one of the nation’s hospices,
we can give you some idea of what to expect.
I spend about 2-to-4 hours a week with my hospice activities
and I might spend the whole time with a person because they need
someone just to be with them.
Other times, it might just be 15 minutes because they’re tired,
they need to rest and they don’t need me right then,
and that’s okay because it’s about them.
But everything that I do with a patient,
every time, it is documented.
The reports filed by the volunteers are absolutely
essential for a number of reasons.
For one, we are required by Medicare to document that at
least 5% of total hours of patient care are delivered by
The volunteer’s report helps complete the whole picture of
how a patient and/or care giver is doing.
And the reports help me assess how the volunteer is doing,
in terms of both skills and attitude.
The volunteer’s report also documents compliance with the
number and frequency of volunteer visits specified in
the patient’s individual care plan.
If you think being a hospice volunteer sounds like a big
responsibility --- you’re right.
 That’s why hospices go to great lengths to make sure an
applicant is a good fit.
I got on their website and found out who to call,
I called and made an appointment for an in-person interview.
 Came in for the interview and was given a packet
with an application to fill out as well as an
application for a background investigation,
forms to fill out about patient confidentiality and the rules of
the hospice.
The forms are only half of the process.
 I meet with prospective volunteers for about an hour.
It’s not like a job interview- more like an informal
conversation that allows me to get to know the person.
I look to see whether the volunteer is receptive to the
hospice philosophy and if they have some degree of comfort with
being around death and loss.
I’m assessing the volunteer’s maturity…
And whether they seem to be healthy emotionally.
Do they have a strong religious, cultural or ethnic bias that
could be problematic?
I ask about their motivation to volunteer…
And about their schedule – how often they are available
and for how much time.
And whether the applicant has had significant losses in his or
her own life.
If the applicant has had a recent loss,
I need to determine whether the applicant should wait a little
longer before becoming a hospice volunteer.
The process from application to acceptance may take some time,
but each step is important to assure the relationship between
volunteer and hospice is mutually beneficial.
Once the interview, background check and other requirements are
complete, hospice volunteers receive plenty of training
before being okayed to see patients.
Lets go ahead and get started.
Welcome. Thank you all so much for coming in and
volunteering for hospice....
–Orientation is the time when we not only learned
how to spend time with patients, but we learned from other team
members as to what their role is and how we can fit in and
blend with that.
So, when I was there, we did it multiple evenings over several
weeks – uh, I know now they’ll do it in a weekend.
 But the point is that we learn how to interact with our team
members as well as the patient.
–We believe training is crucial to providing the best possible
care to patients and families.
And when someone is properly trained,
they can perform their duties with confidence.
All volunteers are given a comprehesive orientation about
hospice philosophy, the team approach to providing care,
hospice regulations and policies,
ethics, and privacy regulations.
We also talk about how the patient’s terminal illness
affects the rest of the household,
spiritual care and grief counseling services.
Federal guidelines require the hospice to provide volunteers
with additional training for specific tasks
not covered in orientation should such needs arise.
And hospices are required to provide ongoing education for
volunteers to maintain their skills and learn new ones.
And do you get into your garden at all?
Yes, yes in fact I help out in the building with the flowers.
–After orientation I felt very comfortable and very competent
to talk and spend the time with my hospice patients.
But then you wonder – oh my God – what if they ask something
that I can’t answer?
 Where do I go from there?
We teach new volunteers that hospice care is comprehensive
and designed to meet each patient’s individual needs.
 In order to do that well…
care is delivered by an interdisciplinary team,
of which the volunteer is a very important part.
Each team member represents a different discipline and brings
different skills to the table – for example: Hospice physicians
have advanced training in controlling pain and managing
other symptoms in people living with advanced illness.
 But their real expertise is in their ability to provide pain
management that eases suffering… while honoring their patient’s
wishes to remain as conscious, active and independent
as they choose.
 The hospice nurse usually coordinates care with the
patient, loved ones, and other hospice team members.
The nurse also plays a pivotal role in communicating with other
team members about the patient’s needs.
The hospice social worker provides counseling and
mediation of patient and family conflicts,
assists in navigating the health care system and identifies
community resources to address things like financial concerns.
  The hospice chaplain helps patients find their own answers
to spiritual questions.
Since spirituality is personal and individual,
hospice chaplains are committed to honoring each person’s
beliefs, not imposing their own.
The hospice home health aide - who sometimes is called a
certified nursing assistant -
generally is the team member the patient sees most often.
 The aide provides invaluable, practical assistance to patients
with tasks of daily living, such as bathing and grooming.
The aide also can assist caregivers with light
housekeeping, meal preparation and feeding the patient.
And - Trained, compassionate hospice volunteers offer
companionship to patients and occasional respite for loved ones.
Volunteers make it possible for caregivers to run errands or
simply take a break – which is invaluable to the caregiver.
Although the patient benefits from the collective expertise of
the team, so too does the volunteer.
Other team members are always available for information or
moral support.
So I'd like to invite Angela up to come and receive your
certificate of completion.
Thank you so much and welcome!
–After demonstrating their understanding of the material
presented in orientation,
the volunteer is ready to do his or her job.
But the work of the volunteer’s supervisor – often the same
person who interviewed the volunteer at the beginning of
the process - is far from done.
Once a volunteer comes aboard – it’s up to their manager to make
sure they remain aboard.
 At my hospice, our retention efforts focus on four areas:
Supervision: I make sure the volunteer has a clear
understanding of what is expected;
I deal with their concerns, or mine,
in a timely and professional manner.
Communication: I encourage volunteers to ask me questions
and make suggestions.
I make sure they know that their ideas are valued.
Recognition: When my volunteer does a good job,
I want him or her to know it.
In fact, I want everyone to know it.
Our hospice has a formal recognition program for
volunteers as well as staff – and I make good use of it.
And Appreciation… which I see as a personal expression of thanks
to the volunteer.
 Sometimes I say a few words privately,
sometimes I send a short note or greeting card,
and sometimes I have the enormous pleasure of sharing a
note from a grateful family.
–All of which adds up to a volunteer likely to remain a
part of the organization.
But there’s really only one way to know what makes someone
volunteer for hospice.
 That’s to ask.
I started out as a hospice volunteer because hospice took
care of my grandfather and I saw the care and compassion that
they offered and the great relief the volunteers offered to
my family and I wanted to be a part of that.
Hospice is probably one of the most rewarding experiences
perhaps in my whole life because you know that you’re making a
difference in that patient’s life even though it might only
be for 30 minutes, for an hour, for a week.
You know that patient has happiness for those moments you spend with them.
I get a lot of satisfaction out of volunteering here because I
can use skills that I have to really make a difference for
hospice patients and families and for this organization.
I know I have made a difference, at least in one person’s life at
this point.
 And I know it’s toward the end of their life but that makes it
all the more important.
If you are interested in volunteering,
doing something important, making a difference in someone’s life,
contact your local hospice,
or go to hospicefoundation.org
to find hospices in your area.
I’m Frank Sesno in Washington for the Hospice Foundation of America.
 Thanks very much for watching.