When a child is diagnosed with a serious, chronic, or life-limiting illness, families are faced with unique and overwhelming challenges. Many families struggle to balance careers, daily tasks, and family needs with providing care for a child with a serious illness.
In order to maximize supportive services, hospice and palliative care programs offer volunteer support to alleviate the burden of daily tasks and provide nurturing companionship. With compassionate presence and heartfelt concern, volunteers offer tremendous relief for caregivers devoted to caring for a sick child.
Why Palliative Care Volunteers Matter
By incorporating community members as a part of the care team, hospice and palliative care programs foster a sense of community that enriches the lives of patients and families, as well as the lives of those who give their time. Patients and families often connect on a more personal level with volunteers, and truly depend on their support to enhance their quality of life.
In addition to direct patient care, volunteers can also provide assistance with organizational and administrative needs, helping to coordinate programming and maintain order within the office environment. A family’s experience with palliative and hospice care can be richer and more profound because of the contributions of volunteers.
Why Do Palliative Care Programs Need Palliative Care Volunteers?
Palliative and hospice care teams are dedicated to providing a high level of supportive services to pediatric patients and families. Volunteer services help to maximize the non-clinical support provided by the care team.
Palliative and hospice programs are funded through government programs, private insurance, and donations made by the public or charitable foundations. Medicare-certified hospice programs are federally mandated to integrate volunteers into administrative or patient services. Mandates require that volunteers contribute at least 5% of the total number of patient care hours provided by paid employees and contract staff. This helps the program qualify for Medicare reimbursement by significantly cutting down on costs.
What do Palliative Care Volunteers Do?
Palliative and hospice care volunteers can assist with a variety of tasks for children and families. These can include both direct and indirect care and employ a diverse set of skills. The most important role of a volunteer is to provide companionship and non-medical conversation. Other tasks may include:
- Preparing meals for patients and their families
- Assisting with light household chores
- Participating in recreational activities such as board games, video games, crafts, or reading
- Assisting with pet care
- Helping prepare mail or email, or performing basic data entry
- Assisting with organization
- Preparing for special community events or outings
- Providing specialized tasked based on volunteer skills and certifications (reiki, yard work, pet therapy, scrapbooking, poetry, and many more!)
Why Volunteer with Palliative/Hospice Care?
Volunteers are as diverse as the families that they serve, representing many lifestyles as well as ethnic, cultural, religious and spiritual backgrounds. Some volunteers are retired, while some are working professionals or students. The decision volunteer is a personal and multifaceted decision. Many volunteers have had personal experiences with a palliative care program and wish to give back in honor of a loved one. Others find personal, religious or educational reasons to become involved in hospice and palliative care.
The most common motivation for seeking out a role as a palliative care volunteer is the desire to contribute to the community, and make a tangible difference to individuals.
The most effective volunteers possess the following traits:
- A genuine desire to help and provide comfort
- Empathy for patients and their families
- Respect for all ways of life (customs, religious views, traditions, etc.)
- The ability to actively listen and to be comfortable with silence
- A desire to give their time and talents
Contact KidsCare of the Rockies to Learn More
Within the scope of their roles, our volunteers will do whatever it takes to attend to the needs of our patients and families. Contact KidsCare of the Rockies today to learn more about our volunteer services.