National Volunteer Month, celebrated annually in April, is dedicated to honoring volunteers throughout the country who selflessly donate their time and energy to giving back to others. Unity Hospice is using this time to recognize the many gifts that hospice volunteers provide for patients facing a terminal illness.
Volunteerism comes in many shapes and sizes; but many people are not aware of the small niche of volunteer work that is hospice. Volunteers play a vital role in enabling hospices to offer the best care for patients and their families.
“We can’t change one’s journey,” explains Dorothy Parrott, volunteer coordinator at Unity Hospice of Chicagoland. “But, what we can do as a hospice volunteer is uphold our promise in making a difference in the lives of our patients. This is something we hold ourselves to each and every day.”
By sharing their time, energy and expertise, volunteers, much like employees, bring compassion and caring to the lives of patients in need, encouraging them to live every moment of life to the fullest.
“What volunteers actually do is not much, but it means so much to our patients. Every little thing – even just a small touch – makes a difference because they know someone is there with them,” says Darcie Carr, volunteer coordinator with Unity Hospice of Greater St. Louis. “I feel blessed to work with such exceptional volunteers here at Unity Hospice. One of our volunteers sees seven patients a week. Another is a young mother in nursing school – they don’t have more time, they just have a big heart,” she adds.
Unity Hospice treats the whole self; body, soul and spirit. The clinical nursing staff is professionally trained to provide physical healing through medicine, while the team of support services and volunteers tend to the patient’s social, emotional and/or spiritual self.
Unity Hospice provides volunteers with specialty training so they can provide social and emotional support through various complimentary programs including, but not limited to, personalized music therapy, support from pets, massage therapy and veteran-focused projects. Hospice volunteers are part of a highly coordinated care team that is designed to provide patients and their families with “the little things in life” that can mean the most.
“They are there to give their hearts to these patients when they need it the most. Volunteers bring a comforting presence and an encouraging smile. We are so fortunate to have such amazing people who just want to make a difference and a positive impact for terminally ill patients and their families,” mentions Jeni Hardin, volunteer coordinator at Unity Hospice of Western Illinois.
Nearly four decades ago, the hospice movement began as a grassroots volunteer-based service. Today, the volunteer aspect of hospice still exists. It is federally mandated under Medicare that 5% of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers. While many hospices struggle to meet that 5% requirement, Unity Hospice averaged 27% volunteer hours throughout the entire company in 2015 – a standard that is upheld throughout the company on a continual basis.
To learn more about hospice, or volunteer opportunities in your area, please visit our Volunteer Page.
About Unity Hospice
Founded in 1992, Unity Hospice is a family owned and operated hospice and palliative care company committed to providing comprehensive care, support and education to people facing a life-limiting illness, their families and the community. Unity Hospice offers care of the highest quality by licensed and competent staff in accordance with laws & regulations and accepted standards of practice. With the dedication to make their patients comfortable, Unity Hospice provides an interdisciplinary approach to each individual and family, in which they go above and beyond everyday to meet their needs.