Helping to offset costs for hospice patients with volunteer assistance is a condition of participation for Medicare whether or not the hospice is a for-profit or nonprofit operation.
Managing the hospice program for InCare Home Health allows me the opportunity to see first-hand the dedication and empathy our volunteers show to patients and their families. Currently, health care costs are in the forefront; however, health care should be measured in terms of patient care, and their contribution is priceless. Their enthusiasm to give back has gone far beyond expectations. They show continued generosity in offering of time to help an individual and their families share the best days possible as they deal with a life-limiting illness. Besides the instinct to help their neighbors in need, they enhance their skills by orientation and training to become part of the Hospice Team. They are equipped to provide support, compassion and practical care to members of our community in their final days. Whether it's running errands, sitting with a patient, reading, helping a patient write his/her journal or assisting in the office, our hospice volunteers truly make a difference.
Volunteering as little as a couple of hours a month can provide assistance to a patient or their family at a time when they need it most. Their gift of giving is a model that should inspire others to do the same. In closing, I wish to share a sentiment from a patient's family: "I could not have cared for my mother without the support and loving care I received from the Hospice Team. You are truly angels." Our community is a better place because of hospice volunteers, and I am lucky to be associated with them.
The writer is regional administrator and director of InCare Home Health & Hospice.