November marks the annual observance of National Home Care & Hospice Month. Given the fall season circles on giving and gratitude, talking about giving to another life in such a profound way seems a natural fit.
Baptist Trinity Home Care & Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Sandra Livesay has been working with families and patients for nearly 30 years. “We were the first residential hospice program in the area that uses many volunteers,” said Sandra
Always looking for volunteers, Sandra says the volunteers give their time in many different roles, each bringing its own set of personal rewards and insight. Volunteers work in homes on a regular basis, helping a patient or family like a good friend.
Tasks may be simply to provide companionship or helping do a few chores. Other volunteers give time “spot volunteering,” which means families may just need periodic support, but not ongoing support. In the hospital, a volunteer may simply conduct a short visit to check on a patient and offer conversation or prayer.
At the Baptist Reynolds Hospice House, located in a tranquil setting on the Baptist Collierville campus, patients can spend their last hours with 24/7 continuous care.
In the 11th Hour program, a volunteer plays a significant role for a patient who has no family or support system. “In this case, we have volunteers who take shifts sitting with the patient in their last hours,” said Sandra.
Whatever the role, any hospice volunteer will agree that the work is richly complex and rewarding. “I think the first thought is that hospice is somehow dark or sad, but that’s not the case. It is truly a privilege to provide care and support for a patient at this time of their life,” said Sandra.
In November, the hospice program will launch a new program called Music and Memory for hospice patients. “People respond to music, and it’s another way for us to connect to a patient.”
Whether it’s sitting quietly in a hospital room or helping a dementia patient reconnect with a lost world through music, volunteers who give time to hospice give more than their time—they give new beginnings.
Anyone who is entertaining the idea of volunteering can attend a day-long basic training to learn more about hospice. Attendance doesn’t obligate anyone, as the time is simply for exploration.