When someone is dying, friends and family sometimes pull away, afraid of what is happening and at a loss for what to say. A hospice volunteer helps fill that gap by being a companion who understands the process of dying and provides compassion, comic relief and conversation.
Because death is such a sensitive issue, hospice volunteers go through extensive training that teaches them the history of hospice, the goals and philosophy of care, emergency procedures and what to expect during the stages of death [source: VistaCare].
The training, which is typically 20 to 30 hours spread out over several weeks, also helps volunteers develop the communication skills necessary to comfort and support patients and families, and explains the emotional and spiritual needs of patients at the end of life [source: Hospice Foundation of America].
There is no set standard for volunteer training and certification, and individual hospices typically provide the training themselves. If you have gone through hospice training before or are only interested in administrative work, you may be able to skip some of the training courses [source: Hospice Volunteer Association].
Hospice volunteers work an average of four hours each week and most hospices require a commitment of at least one year. Volunteers work with a clinical team of doctors, nurses and social workers. Because they tend to spend more time with the patients, hospice volunteers can often give the team valuable feedback about issues that arise in a case [source: Hospice Volunteer Association].
Read on to find out what hospice volunteering can do for you.