Reach out and Take Your Hand
Hospice & Palliative Patient Care
Trained volunteers provide practical and emotional support to hospice patients and their families facing the end of life. Volunteers complete a 10-week, 30-hour training and become certified for hospice patient care. EOLS volunteers respond to a wide variety of requests for assistance and become an important part of the circle of care for patients and caregivers. Hospice volunteers may provide:
Companionship, including visiting, listening, sharing stories, laughing together, crying together, holding a hand, reading, card games, or just sitting quietly and enjoying each other’s company
Practical help, including meal preparation, light housekeeping, gardening, walking a dog, cleaning a cat box, writing a letter, and many other solutions to wishes or needs as determined by the patient, family, caregiver, or Hospice Team
Respite for family and caregivers
Patient care, including re-positioning in bed, assisting with ambulation and personal care, transferring from bed to chair, gentle massage, wiping a brow, or moistening lips
Music, song, poetry or art
Life legacy, including journaling, recording, photo albums
Assistance with errands or shopping
Transportation to appointments, outings and recreation
Arch Volunteer Teams
The ARCH Volunteer Team is a different approach to visiting patients. Teams of hospice and palliative care volunteers work specifically within the ARCH suites located on the UVM/PMC campus of Porter Hospital and Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing. The members of the AVT are graduates of the Hospice Volunteer Training provided by End of Life Services. Instead of being assigned to an individual hospice patient, they join a team of volunteers that rotate visits to all those in the ARCH Suites on a daily basis. ARCH room residents are all at the end of their life. They might or might not be enrolled in a certified hospice program; they might have a supportive family, or they might be alone in the world; they might appreciate visits and activity, or they might want to be companioned in silence. The AVT serves as a support system to the patients, their families as well as to the staff.
Many of the AVT members hold additional layers of certification such as End of Life Doula, Clinical Pastoral Education or Massage Therapy and Wellspring – the hospice singing group. The AVT is designed to complement the medical and spiritual care and the home-like environment provided in the ARCH Suites.
The bereavement support volunteer program is currently in development. We hope to hold the first training class by the end of 2019 with a pilot program to follow. Updates to come.
Wellspring is a group of EOLS volunteers and community members who sing for the dying wherever they are living - in their homes, at bedsides, in ARCH suites or in Addison County community care homes. Singing in 3- or 4-part harmony, Wellspring makes every effort to learn and perform specially requested songs of comfort. Patients and family members often join in the singing or simply relax into the melodies as Wellspring offers its gift of music. When a patient is nearing death, the singers provide a vigil sing of very quiet, peaceful songs to help the patient in their passage by “singing them over.” Music has been called the universal language of the soul. It can be an especially powerful way to soothe people and have a profound effect at the end of life or with dementia-type diseases. Among other benefits, music can:
Invite a deep sense of relaxation, inner calm and promote sleep
Decrease anxiety and fearfulness
Reduce pain, nausea and general discomfort
Provide diversion and pleasure
Promote a sense of connectedness with others through shared experiences
Encourage reflection, meditation and spiritual contemplation
Kindle nostalgic memories and life review
Stimulate communication between patient and family members
Express a broad range of feelings
Convey personal and cultural identity
Footstep Volunteers - Each next step is a first Step
Resource volunteer teams are currently in development. Volunteers are being trained in “specialty” areas including Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Advance Care Planning navigation, and working with patients and families in creating Music & Memory portfolios or Living Legacy recordings.