Every year, over 1.61 million Medicare recipients benefit from hospice, specialized care for those nearing the end of life. Volunteers are an essential part of hospice care teams that can provide support to patients and families in various ways. If you’d like to learn how you can help, read on to learn how to volunteer with hospice!
What is hospice?
Hospice is holistic care and support for those who have a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Care provided is palliative and not intended as a cure, only for comfort and symptom relief. Hospice is provided in four ways:
Routine home care is provided wherever a patient lives.
Continuous home care is for patients who need more intensive visits from their care team.
General inpatient care is for those who have symptoms that are too severe to manage at home.
Respite care provides short-term relief to caregivers of hospice patients.
Read more about the types of hospice care.
What do hospice volunteers do?
Volunteers are so crucial to the work that hospice does that Medicare actually requires agencies to have a certain number of trained volunteers at all times. As a volunteer with hospice, you can expect to do anything from clerical work to assisting patients and families in their homes. Though there really is no limit to what they can do, here are some common duties for hospice volunteers:
- Answering phone calls, data entry, and other light office work
- Spending time with patients and family members
- Cooking meals
- Light household chores
- Providing respite to family caregivers
- Assisting with bereavement
- Utilizing special skills for assistance around the home or emotional support (think landscaping, beautician services, or music)
Related: Hospice Care: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know
How can I volunteer with hospice?
Most hospices will require volunteers to be over the age of 18. Once you’ve found a hospice near you that you’d like to help with, call or check the agency website for specific volunteer needs or open positions. Hospices may list needs as:
- Patient support
- Family support
- Child care assistance
- Bereavement support
- Special skills
- Administrative work
Once you’ve applied to volunteer with a hospice, a background check and training will usually be performed. Then, all that’s left is to start helping!
Hospice Volunteer Resources
Here are some great resources for hospice volunteers!
Your local Area Agency on Aging may list hospice volunteer information in your state!
Do you need more help?
Need more help with hospice? Then start with these great resources:
Senior Resource Glossary of Hospice Terms
Need something else?
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