EvergreenHealth Hospice Care is seeking community volunteers throughout King and Snohomish counties to support patients and caretakers in navigating the end-of-life process.
Hospice care volunteers are integral members of the EvergreenHealth Hospice Care team who receive special training to support patients, families and staff in a variety of roles, from patient care and bereavement, to guest reception and comfort therapies. Volunteers have the flexibility to select roles that serve the program’s needs, while also best utilizing their skills and interests.
“I couldn’t have chosen a better place to volunteer my time,” said Glenda Guinn-Gilles, who has been a Hospice Care volunteer for nine years. “It’s the most fulfilling experience I’ve ever had—everything I give, I receive tenfold when I see how meaningful my time and service is to patients and their families.”
To become a hospice volunteer, eligible community members participate in a comprehensive two-day training session that covers hospice values and philosophy, pain and symptom management, spiritual care, boundaries, ethical issues, family systems, diversity, and loss and grief. The training program helps volunteers gain intentional awareness of their feelings and experiences with death and dying, and fosters opportunities for participants to enhance their listening skills, helping them to be fully present for all those they serve and empowering them with necessary skills to support a rewarding volunteer experience.
“My mother and I completed hospice volunteer training 13 years ago, and to this day we still talk about the wonderful education and support it provided,” said Priscilla Wiest, who remains an active EvergreenHealth Hospice volunteer. “The training program alone was truly incredible—we developed long-lasting relationships with everyone in the class and learned so much from the coordinators, who acted as mentors. I was, and am, very appreciative of the resources and educational opportunities the training program offered in helping us become volunteers.”
After training, volunteers work with coordinators to determine roles, locations and schedules, all of which can be customized to each individual to ensure the most fulfilling experience. It’s common for new volunteers to provide support in multiple roles before identifying which position is the best fit.
Duvall resident Brent Haynes has been volunteering with EvergreenHealth Hospice for five years and uses his professional training as a licensed massage therapist to provide Compassionate Touch® massages to hospice patients. The modified massage is designed to reduce pain and anxiety, and to enhance comfort and quality of life for those in the later stages of life.
Haynes also volunteers his time to make weekly phone calls, or “tuck-in calls,” to check in on caregivers before the weekend, and visits caregivers to provide respite breaks.
“When you regularly talk on the phone with or visit caregivers, you develop ongoing relationships with them,” he said. “They enjoy having someone to talk to, even if they don’t need anything tangible for their patients—your company is enough. It’s genuinely fulfilling to know that the seemingly simple task of being present for someone can have such a positive impact.”
Volunteer positions are currently available in patient care, reception, office help, massage and comfort therapies, bereavement and phone support. EvergreenHealth Hospice Care also welcomes volunteers who can contribute creative talent, such as needlework and musical performance.
EvergreenHealth Hospice Care provides inpatient care at its Gene & Irene Wockner Hospice Care Center, the region’s only freestanding hospice center, and also treats patients in their private residences, nursing homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities and adult family homes. Providers, staff and volunteers have special expertise in the management of physical, emotional and spiritual needs that arise during end-of-life care, and help by providing space for a peaceful transition for patients to live as fully as possible until the end of life. Learn more at www.evergreenhealth.com/hospice-care.
In 2017, 3,970 families were served with compassionate end-of-life care through EvergreenHealth Hospice Care. EvergreenHealth is committed to growing alongside its expanding community to continue providing high quality health care services. As part of its 10-year Master Facilities Plan, it is keeping pace with the community’s growth by upgrading facilities and infrastructure to ensure its ability to provide care in the safest environment. To learn more, visit www.evergreenhealth.com/future.