It takes a special person to offer comfort and companionship to those nearing the end of their life. At Brookdale Hospice, we are lucky to have many volunteers who donate their time and talents to bring warmth, kindness and dignity to our patients. Volunteers may sing patients songs, swap stories, help family members with errands, or just hold their patient’s hands and let them know someone is with them.
We believe that with the gentle assistance of hospice care, you can help turn a difficult experience into a deeply meaningful one. Our volunteers play an important part in fulfilling our mission to serve patients and their families with compassion, respect, excellence and integrity.
Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week recognizes those who lend their time, talents and voice to make a difference in the lives of others. Brookdale salutes the volunteers who touch the lives of our residents and patients. This week we’ll introduce you to some of our hospice volunteers. You’ll learn what they do for Brookdale’s residents and patients and what drives them to volunteer.
“Volunteers help our dying patients live,” said Jenni Smith, area vice president for Brookdale Hospice. “They bring an array of services and support to our patients and families. Volunteers are wonderful for companionship, for providing respite and sitting vigil at the bedside while the patient is in the process of dying. Volunteers bridge the gap between the hospice agency and the community.”
Smith got her start as a volunteer 20 years ago. Volunteerism is deeply rooted in hospice care, dating back to the 1960s when the modern hospice movement began. The Medicare law defining hospice care requires that providers to use volunteers for at least five percent of their patient care hours. The idea is that by requiring the use of volunteers, providers remain community oriented and focused on patients and their families.
“We value our volunteers as much as any paid associate,” Smith said. “They are part of our team.”
Here are three special hospice volunteers that we want to celebrate for National Volunteer Week. Thank you so much for your service to Brookdale Hospice.
Volunteer: Mary Ellen Ames
Location: Lakeway, TX
Mary Ellen truly has the hospice heart. She makes time to see all of the patients in her building. She plans for her visits and gets to know each individual patient. They put puzzles together, attend community activities and have great conversations. She makes sure she introduces them to other people in the community. On Christmas Day, Mary Ellen gave her patients stuffed animals and cookies. She enjoys giving and spending time as much as the patients enjoy receiving. Our patients faces fill with joy when they see her coming.
Ames on why she volunteers: I know that enjoyment is found in meeting new people and making new friendships, including those in hospice. My interest in volunteering has been a focal point in my retirement years, and I find myself drawn to hospice volunteering in particular. In reaching out to a new patient, it is myself who becomes vulnerable. However, in my opinion, being given this opportunity is a precious gift, as no one knows how limited their time may be.
Volunteer: Anthony Garcia
Location: Fountain Valley, Calif.
Anthony was drawn to hospice to gain experience and acquire new skills to help him with his journey toward becoming a nurse. He has the true spirit of a hospice volunteer; always engaged with a genuine desire to provide dignity and comfort to patients and families. Anthony’s favorite part of volunteering is what he learns from the patients.Their life stories and views on the world intrigue him. Anthony’s calm presence gracefully intertwines in his visits, whether it is a serious conversation or a simple afternoon of watching the patient’s favorite TV show. He is a treasure, a soul with this passion and dedication to providing the gift of presence during this unique moment in time.
Garcia on why he volunteers: Initially I volunteered as a prerequisite for a nursing degree, but after becoming involved with different patients and becoming a part of their lives I realized that I volunteered more so to make a small difference in people's lives. Whether it was just passing the time sharing stories or talking about everyday life, contributing a small part of my day made a big difference for my patients. I am honored to have become a small chapter in my patients’ lives and I continue to look forward to helping out others. My experience with Brookdale Hospice has solidified my commitment and motivation to continue pursing my education and eventual career in nursing.
We'll introduce you to more hospice volunteers on Wednesday and Friday.