What Makes a Good Hospice Volunteer?

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Retired mother and daughter spend time together at home, with their dog, playing a game.
Published:  June 26, 2023

Many families turn to hospice to help make a loved one’s final months or weeks more comfortable. Hospice addresses a person’s mind, body, and spirit as they go through this challenging phase of life. While nurses, chaplains, aides, and therapists all play valuable roles, volunteers form a vital part of hospice services.

A 2010 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization study found that the family members of patients in hospice programs who have a higher degree of involvement with direct care volunteers report higher levels of care satisfaction, underscoring the importance of this role.

Hospice volunteers in direct care usually work with patients for a few hours per week, and many hospices request a long-term commitment so patients will be able to form a bond with the same volunteer throughout their time in hospice. Visits with patients are flexible and typically scheduled with the patient and caregivers around the volunteer’s schedule.

Top Qualities of a Good Hospice Volunteer

The role of a hospice volunteer is one of compassionate service, and there are several ways people can help. Working directly with patients and their families as a direct care volunteer can be incredibly rewarding, but it is important to ensure you are the right fit if you are considering offering your support. Below are some of the top qualities of a good hospice volunteer.

Good Listening Skills

A good hospice volunteer will have excellent listening skills. People who are approaching death often reflect on their life, and having a sympathetic ear as they reminisce, and share stories and photos can be incredibly comforting and reassuring to the patient.

Understanding and Acceptance of Death and Dying

Hospice volunteers must have a solid understanding and acceptance of their feelings about death and dying. People who find the topic of death uncomfortable or who have recently lost a loved one might not be a good fit for this role.

Kind Disposition

A kind disposition is an essential quality for a hospice volunteer to possess. A compassionate spirit can provide tremendous comfort to those nearing the end of life. It is also important for volunteers to have respect for all religious views and cultures.

Willingness To Spend Time

Many terminally ill patients find it comforting to be surrounded by other people. For some patients, it may not be possible to always have their loved ones by their side due to work or family commitments. A hospice volunteer plays a significant role in keeping patients company.

Volunteers are expected to visit the patients they are matched with regularly.

There is also a small time commitment up front in the form of volunteer orientation and training. Orientation covers topics such as the history and philosophy of hospice and the processes of death and dying. Volunteers will better understand the roles and responsibilities of all hospice team members and learn different methods of providing compassionate care to patients.

Interested In Volunteering with Us?

Volunteers are essential to supporting all facets of hospice care. If you are interested in providing patients and their families with comfort and peace as their final days approach, contact Traditions Health to find out how you can participate.

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