Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Seeks New Volunteers – Training to Be Held in Late October
Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Hospice will have a Volunteer Training in October. Potential volunteers and interested persons may attend the training before deciding to become a volunteer. Volunteers have flexible hours and can participate in various ways; helping out in homes, in the hospice office or at various activities throughout the year.
In general, Hospice offers a team approach to palliative care versus cure for people who want to die at home. Families get to choose how much of the “team” they want after the initial visit once a person has been diagnosed as having six months or less to live and referred to hospice care. Hospice offers nursing services, volunteers, psychosocial and emotional support, hospice aides, and spiritual counsel, among other things. One of the most important components we offer is education. In general, “this is what dying might look like,” and how it can vary person to person, greatly vary. And, then “these are the things that might help,” according to Hospice Social Worker and Volunteer Coordinator, Cindy Baker.
Baker said Hospice volunteer training will cover many topics including body mechanics, how to safely transfer someone from bed to wheelchair, assisting someone with a walker and how to fall. Volunteers learn about infection control, confidentiality, practicing an active listening presence, stress management for oneself, the role of spirituality in hospice and bereavement. Baker also added that the hospice training serves as a time for both the volunteer and the hospice team to find out if hospice is a good fit for them.
According to Baker, “Most importantly, we learn the difference between serving versus rescuing — how to empower the caregivers and the person dying instead of taking over. Each of us will have our own death journey and most of us will accompany someone on that journey. Being fully present with someone else’s pain, sorrow, goodbyes, grouchiness, fear, anger, humor, and vulnerability takes self-awareness.” She added that it includes not acting on the desire to fix or to change and not taking things personally.
“We learn it’s not about us. As volunteers, we stand witness to a family’s hard times, but also their incredible love stories. Again and again I see people being willing to love in the face of life being hard,” Baker continued.
October marks Baker’s 23rd year at Hospice as volunteer coordinator. Before that she volunteered and served on the board with Sheridan County Hospice for 6 years. Her love for Hospice work grows each year. Hospice families have taught her many things, but mostly about the depth, strength and resilience of the human spirit.
Baker says that she continues to learn, including how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and to not assume that she knows how to do something better than a person who has loved another for a long time. She loves her job.
Persons interested in learning more about hospice or who want to participate in the volunteer training should contact Cindy Baker at Sheridan Memorial Hospital Hospice at 672-1083.