Trained Volunteers

The spirit of hospice volunteering is borne from a genuine desire to give comfort, peace, and care to patients, caregivers, and families during the end of life. Hospice volunteers have a tremendous impact on the lives of the patients that they serve, of which they are a part, and the families and friends of the terminally ill. Understanding the role of hospice volunteers, the ways in which volunteers can serve, and the impact that volunteering has on the lives of the patient, the patient’s family, and the volunteer, can better equip those who are interested in becoming a hospice volunteer.

Why Hospice Organizations Need Volunteers
The value of hospice volunteers cannot be overstated. Volunteers are commonly perceived by hospice patients and families as ordinary members of their local community. This relationship provides a feeling of normality for patients, as well as patients’ families and friends. Volunteers often connect with patients on a deep, personal level, which provides the hospice care team with valuable insights concerning the overall impact of the level of comfort and care that is provided.

Medicare-certified hospice programs are also federally mandated to integrate hospice volunteers into administrative or patient services. The United States government requires that the total number of hours that hospice volunteers contribute must equal at least 5% of the total number of patient care hours provided by paid hospice employees and contract staff.

Hospice Volunteer Training
Before beginning volunteer service, hospice volunteers are often provided with training. This training prepares volunteers for the administrative services they may perform for the hospice, or the ways in which they will be directly assisting patients, caregivers, and families. Though each hospice organization may have a unique training program, most hospice volunteer training includes:

  • Understanding the hospice philosophy of care
  • How to know boundaries as a volunteer when interacting with patients and families
  • An overview of the and the patient’s family during the end-of-life journey
  • Understanding the services offered by the hospice organization
  • How to communicate with patients, their families, and friends
  • How to assist patients and families with , loss, and bereavement
  • Understanding patient and health information privacy


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