I was recently asked how to be a Hospice volunteer. My answer was to call any hospice and ask how to be part of their volunteer program.
However the real question is “Why do you want to be a hospice volunteer? Why do you want to support people who are dying?”
Being involved with end of life care is not something most people want to do, so what brings you? Is it because you have had a hospice experience and want to give back? I have witnessed many people whose special person I cared for during the end of their life become hospice volunteers.
HOWEVER, I suggest a person wait a year. The grief wound is too fresh to work in end of life before then. Come to the ongoing bereavement support group and then if you are still interested, we would love to have you. Particularly since you have walked in the shoes you will be supporting.
Another self searching question I ask potential volunteers is what is your belief regarding death? Before we can help others we have to understand ourselves, our motivations, our belief systems. I will add here that if an interest is to share your belief with others, then this is not the place for you. Hospice philosophy accepts and supports all religions and nonreligious beliefs.
I think another area to explore before becoming a hospice volunteer are your own personal experiences with dying and death. Explore the emotions and yes, fears surrounding the end of life.
Hospice’s role in volunteer training is providing education about end of life and ongoing support. Working with end of life situations is rewarding and fulfilling and it is an area not many feel called to enter. All the more reason to understand the “why” of being there.
Something More about… Why do you want to support people who are dying?
I would encourage anyone who wants to work in end of life care to read THE FINAL ACT OF LIVING (As featured in USA Today) and The End of Life Guideline Series bundle as training. This book is full of stories from my decades at the bedside of the dying people in the months to moments before death. From the stories and experiences, you will see that death doesn’t just happen, there is an unfolding; there is a process to dying.
Here’s a review recent review of “Final Act…”:
The book you need! I am a hospice aid and I love my job. I bought this book to help me take even better care of my patients. I definitely got a LOT out of this book! It is a wonderful book for patients, family, caregivers, and hospice workers. Barbara (once again) did an amazing job putting all the information into an informative and easy to read book. I highly recommend it! ~April